Tuesday 12 June 2018

On the slide

... or I saw Neale Daniher battle like a trooper, Tom McDonald kick six goals and nothing else that was worth a shit.

Our finest winning streak in a decade had to end eventually, and while I hoped we could massage it through to the bye the best thing to do now is take a deep breath, forget this game ever happened and concentrate on the next battle. Except if you play through our midfielde, then you should have your eyelids held open for non-stop screenings of an 'All The Centre Bounces' package to understand where it went wrong.

It's ironic that the day began with our coach dressed as a downhill skier and ended with defeat to our first competent opposition in seven weeks but sometimes you have to throw your hands up in the air and admit the other lot played us off the park. There's a heightened sense of distress because of the opposition and the sense of occasion, but even with half our side MIA or worse we still managed to prop up the league average score by putting in 91 points in defeat. It's a setback in what was as much of an eight point game as you can get in Round 11, but the result doesn't have to be terminal.

In retrospect we probably saw a few early signs of what was to come against the Bulldogs, it's just that they had a forward line less threatening than the cuddly panda costume Ken Hinkley wore into the drink so we were able to easily escape the early scare. This time we ran into a quick side with a multi-pronged attack and got what we deserved.

I thought we'd win narrowly, but wasn't going to be surprised by defeat. It was hard to understand people coming from everywhere to clamber aboard the bandwagon after last week, if they'd missed the boat after we savaged the Crows what did the Dogs game add to the picture to convince anybody that we weren't in danger of another Sydney on Friday night style ambush here.

The savage series of wins (let's not call it a streak unless there's a DVD box set coming out) will be looked back at fondly in years to come, but it was absolutely fair enough to question whether we'd beaten anybody worthwhile. North and Adelaide are nothing more than out contemporaries now, but so are Hawthorn and they wiped us off the table. You had to be brave or insane to pick this week to go all-in on us, and like Donald Trump going in to bat for Roseanne just before she necked her big comeback, we should have known the end was nigh right when this happened:
Given that it was posted at 9.13am I have to think he was stone cold sober and just speculating hard on a form bubble, but it had a touch of this about it:

Steveaux's punishment is to be reminded of his blunder for the rest of the season and beyond by the sort of Twitterists who him look like reasonable company in comparison.

From our perspective it was such a nothing, wishy-washy, game other than the Forward Sizzle experience that it's hard to find anything to violently latch on to. At least if you were interested in a violent latching we so slow that there wouldn't be much trouble catching somebody. It was just sad that after committing hari kari against them in Round 23 last year, we again left ourselves having to clamber out of a colossal hole to launch an ultimately fruitless fightback. This time there was a tackle in the first 10 minutes, but otherwise it was like watching the same game except with an even more decisive finishing move by the Pies.

With 18 of the same players (sans only Garlett, Hunt, Tyson and Watts) from that fateful August afternoon, there was an action replay of free running Collingwood players gliding gracefully past opponents who looked helpless to intervene, and opening up a sizeable quarter time lead that made you want to denounce everyone involved in obscene terms. Then just like that game we nearly escaped from Nathan Buckley's torture dungeon before the same shit that got us into trouble to begin with reared its ugly head. This time we exhausted our best attempt comeback in the second quarter rather than the last, otherwise same same. The two years of Queen's Birthday ascendancy is over, and you can't say we didn't deserve it. Given the narrow win last year and the two games that have followed it's advantage Bucks in the battle against Goodwin.

On the same day two years ago when we were still mostly shit I had nightmarish visions of Mason Cox using his giraffe like stature to torment us. He did not, and despite kicking two goals was about as useful as an actual escaped animal while we cartwheeled away to an easy win. The countdown was on towards the ultimate revenge, a performance of such incredible novelty that there's a movement afoot to rename the Kent Kingsley Club in his favour. The MCC acronym is appealing, but not yet. For now he'll have to comfort himself with an induction to the Collingwood wing alongside Brad Dick x2 and Adam Oxley. Dick, Cox and Ox - coming soon to a breakfast radio program near you.

I've got no idea how he knocked off De Goey for BOG, but best of luck to him. If you can come into a game with six goals in 10 games then become the tallest player ever to kick five in a game I take my hat off to you. Any forward, no matter what unusual background they come from, could only dream of playing in front of a midfield that dominated the clearances to such an absurd degree, and often marched the ball out of defence with half a dozen free players to aim at. The only surprise is that he didn't kick more, instead of sharing the joy with the three others who had 11 between them.

We had a lot of players down on their recent good form, or just flat out beaten by better opponents, but what shit me to the point of nearly leaving my seat so I could attack an inanimate object was the demolition job they did on us in the clearances. So much for Gawn's defence of his World Heavyweight Title against Grundy, they probably fought a draw in the one-on-one battle but it was a wasteland at surface level. How often would the ball land from the centre ruck contest and be immediately flicked out to a spare player in acres of space? With Row MMs everywhere occupied I was forced to temper my language due to having a child in front of me, but by the fifth or sixth time we kicked a goal and immediately gifted them have a scoring opportunity from the middle I had to at least mutter filthy things under my breath.

The title fight didn't get off to an auspicious start when both ruckmen fresh-aired the opening contest, but I should have known something suspect was going to happen when the Pies whipped the ball straight into attack and resisted multiple attempts to remove it. Compare and contrast to our inside 50s, where they couldn't extract it any quicker without somebody suffering whiplash. Champion Data, I know you're not reading but nevertheless here's a challenge for you - for each inside 50 that didn't immediately lead to a goal, what was the average time the ball then spent in the defensive half of the ground? I don't even need to see the results to know that we were pantsed. They shut the exits and we couldn't find any sort of alternative escape route.

Nobody would have been surprised when two minutes of panic defending ended with Cox kicking his first. It can't entirely have been the absence of Lever (and if it was we're in deep shit) but our defence just looked spooked. For the first time all year Oscar seemed vulnerable - and continued a generally shit day for everybody by going off concussed - other than one cracking tackle Hibberd was well off on his recent pace, Nev suffered from the traditional QB media curse and was later injured while trying to get to a contest everyone else declined to participate in, Joel Smith played a very good game in the contest I wouldn't bet my life on his defensive positioning, Lewis got a lot of touches that were not matched by a lot of chases or tackles, Salem worries me and I'm still waiting for confirmation that Vince was out there at all. No bloody wonder a 211cm international could be the vanguard of an exciting 20 goal performance.

Even when we bounced down the other end for a settler through Hannan the signs were ropey. It was the first time all day we'd been able to bust free, and it didn't happen again for another 20 minutes. While the Pies did as they pleased we had plenty of players in struggletown - Petracca was entirely without impact, Melksham turned up for a couple of passages of play and christ only knows what any of Neal-Bullen, Brayshaw or Harmes were doing. Gus did some nice things when he got his hands on it, but this was nowhere near the party atmosphere provided by the absent Crows or Bulldogs.

The upside is that all these players have proven they can impact a game so the only way is up, the downside is that the blueprint on how to do them in has been delivered to all the other coaches. Relentless pressure helped, with most of our game confined to operating in a phone booth while the Pies dashed around in waves as they pleased. The lack of space to create anything decent led to artless panic kicking towards the general vicinity of the 50 in the hope that somebody would be there. They generally were not. Here's hoping that we're only vulnerable to the most insane of pressure performances, and that other sides won't be able to stop us going free range as effectively.

It was not a great day to be Jesse Hogan, all our losses happen when our half-forward line goes to pieces and he could barely get it inside or outside 50. It was all downhill from when he gave away a clumsy free kick for a two handed shove into the back of Dunn right in front of goal that almost directly led to the Pies' second. That was the closest we ever get to getting in front for the rest of the day. This is ok, he is now a proven commodity so we don't need to be nervous that any down day is a pointer to a future form slump.

If Hogan's streak of kicking a goal every week had to go down, I'm glad Dunn played a role. Howe can continue to piss up a rope for stringing us along through that last season, but given that Brisbane are a lost cause now Dunn has pushed ahead of the SME for ex-Demons I want to see do well. I'd prefer he was a shining light in a horrid team, but if Collingwood have to be good again that's at least some aspect of it to be enjoyed. Interviewed after the game he made a point of saying how much he still loved the Dees, and I hope he comes back in some fashion when he's done playing. I also hope that next time we play them Hogan kicks 14 on him but that's purely business. Nevertheless, when he's retired in a couple of years we'll still have a decade of Sizzle Jr so I'm still comfortable with the direction we went with this.

Our free and easy attitude to going near an opponent left them to add another three in the middle of the quarter, and with plenty of time left we were already beyond the Stranglewank qualifying mark. There was fair anxiety at the umpiring - with some justification when they kicked a goal courtesy of an outrageous throw - but concentrating on that is just papering over the cracks of how we got what we deserved for disappearing under pressure. It wasn't as immediately drastic as Round 23, and we are more aware now than then that Collingwood are a decent side, but it was still hard to swallow the idea of tossing away another important game against them by quarter time. Enter the world's most unlikely locally produced forward, Tom McDonald.

If on that day in 2016 when we saw Cox for the first time you'd told me he and McDonald would share 11 goals between them I'd have been convinced that the American was going to get all of them. Instead, Tom played a lone hand in an otherwise absent attack, and his first allowed us to get to quarter time less than four goals down. More accurately, he did the right thing then watched as sheer dumb luck got us to quarter time less than four goals down. Just when we needed to at least halve a centre contest they barrelled forward and we were lucky to get away with only conceding two more points before the siren.

Regular readers will recall my theory about how many Jesse Hogan goals are immediately given back, but in evidence against our centre bounce performances let the record show that Collingwood scored 116, 91 and 114 seconds after his first three goals. They were polite enough to wait a full 128 after the fourth and around three minutes after the next two - average time of reply 112 seconds. Never once did we capitalise on any of his six goals to have the next score. I'm not sure I've ever seen a reasonable sized bag wasted so efficiently - but then again how often does anyone kick six in a game where their side spends so much time on the back foot?

Regardless of how much he might want to nut some of his teammates for wasting his efforts, watching Sizzle kick goals is a thrilling experience. I doubt other supporters are self-aware enough to have their own version of the Kingsleys, but any West Coast fan who thought "why us?" when he ran riot at Subi last year needs to cross his name off because he is now a genuine forward weapon. His goals were literally the only thing this game had going for it from my perspective.

He only had three kicks that weren't majors so it was hardly his best game around the ground but his forward presence is magnificent. Sod all this five minutes on the wing shit, stick him inside 50 at the opening bounce and kick the ball at him repeatedly. If you need to run him through the wing later in the game fair enough, but at 3.5 goals a game he's so dangerous that it's negligent not to have him down there at the start to try and nick some decisive early goals.

The second term was the only one McDonald didn't kick a goal in, but also the only quarter we won all day. For the first time there was a bit of life in our ball movement, and it wasn't just left to the Pies to play on ruthlessly at all costs. Charlie Spargo recovered from not having a touch in the first quarter to play the 15 minutes of his life, and we managed to control the ball long enough that it wasn't being pinged forward merrily to a queue of forwards on every disposal. You will not in any way be surprised to discover that we returned the second goal like an unwanted birthday present, but by the time Neal-Bullen ended a period of overly fancy play to cut the margin back to five it was game on.

At least statistically it was, we made kicking goals look like such a painful process that I didn't have any faith that this was sustainable for the rest of the game. Certainly not unless we tightened up on their ball movement. Two minutes after Bullet's goal we were defending another shot from Cox, and not surprisingly that begat the seven point play response not long after that. RIP to our most viable attempt at a comeback, but its chances of survival were always slim when we weren't allowed to play anything like the free-flowing pisstake footy that the rubbish sides had let us get away with. Can't play Essendon/St Kilda/Gold Coast/Carlton/Adelaide/Footscray every week.

There were brief moments of lucidity, like Gawn getting forward to convert the sort of set shot that everyone expects him to miss now. That cut the margin back to 13 approaching half time, a perfect opportunity to readdress what had ailed us and return for a proper swing at completing the comeback after the break. As long as we didn't do anything stupid like concede a goal two minutes later to almost entirely unwind all the good work we'd put in since quarter time. You know the drill.

We were offering so little, with so few players that were worth focusing on I was more interested in the work of an operative who was parked behind our bench and passing on this list of rotating catchphrases displayed on a tripod for players.
  • 666 (presumably the formation, not summoning the number of the beast)
  • Take the ball forward
  • Boost runners
  • Fwds inside a kick
  • Moneyball brothers (now you're just being silly)
  • Fwd power
  • Joker in the net
Christ only knows what any of it meant (well, 'take the ball forward' is fairly self-explanatory), maybe we lost at the centre bounces because the midfielders were having trouble giving each other the correct codeword. How about one next week that 'LOCK THE FUCKING BALL IN AFTER GOALS' - written and authorised by T. McDonald, AAMI Park, Melbourne.

Even at just 19 points down I didn't fancy us stopping them scoring long enough to overcome a four goal deficit. And that's how it went, that man Cox caused the Kingsley Manor phone lines to go into meltdown with this third and it was clear that they had both opportunity and motive to keep scoring. We turned the tables for once by McDonald being on the end of a quick reply, only for that to generate Pies goals from the next two bounces. At this stage all I could do was take deep breaths,  think back to the good times and enjoy the antics of the guy sitting a few seats from me who looked like he was about to have a stroke - and not the sort you might have been tempted by over the last few weeks.

Another brief flourish saw goals to Viney and McDonald that cut the gap back to 16, and can I tell you how great a time it would have been not to concede straight away after the second one? But no, with Oscar McSizzle already off the ground having his head attended to (and would later miss the end of the game with concussion, allowing further scope for the opposition forward line to twat us) the defence parted like the Red Sea, causing Jetta to so vigorously attempt to get into a marking contest he shouldn't have had to attend to that he simultaneously injured his shoulder and knee.

Even after the modern day Lockett and Dunstall, McDonald and Cox, traded goals at the end of the quarter there was still the outsidest chance of pulling something ridiculous off in the last quarter. At this stage we didn't know Oscar and Nifty were finished, but did think injury machine Daniel Wells was. You never know, we might have overrun them in a heroic performance to answer Neale Daniher's "why not us?" speech. Nah. With 30 seconds left we discovered the answer to the speech was "because we're shithouse at stopping quick attacking moves" and they worked it all the way from the back pocket to a mark inside 50. Some second game random kicked it after the siren, we went five goals down and there was more chance of me winning the raffle than us even making it remotely interesting.

We haven't had many exciting streaks over the last few years, and I remember a time where a win going into the bye was celebrated because it meant we got to be happy for two weeks in a row, but be it two straight or six there's still something depressing about watching a great run go up in smoke. As much as I'd like to have visualised the Carlton demolition job unfolding in front of me it was hard not to focus on the present, and I spent three quarter time standing up, pacing around and generally being completely ungrateful for Rounds 6 to 11. In the cold light of day I feel better about it, but at the time I was fuming.

There was a brief flourish in the opening minutes of the last quarter where we kicked two behinds and actually kept the ball inside their defensive 50 for a few seconds instead of letting them walk it out. That all came to stuff all as Cox took advantage of a 20 centimetre height advantage on emergency one-on-one defender Smith to kick his fifth with plenty of time left. We already knew it was a Kingsley worth game, but this should have led to Kent himself parachuting in to stop the game and make an official presentation. At this point I wasn't thinking straight and thought bugger it, just let him kick 10 and at least we'll have seen something memorable. This is the same sort of insane Stockholm Syndrome as when the margin hit 186 in Geelong and I thought "eh, I may as well at least see the all time record margin".

Copping the biggest haul of goals ever by a foreign born player (which I assume is the 13 by our own English born Harry Davie in Round 14, 1925) would have been a fitting way to depart a game where half our side had slowed to a crawl and most of the others never sped up to begin with. Even the much maligned Chris Mayne was having a day out, I'm not sure he can qualify as a Kingsley due to several years of meritorious service at Fremantle but in a Collingwood context he and his Priddis-esque poodle hair were taking the piss.

At an almost six goal margin the game was long gone, but considering how much road and foot traffic there was to beat I was surprised at how few of our fans left after Cox's fifth. Then at the next one a deadly stampede nearly broke out as people went for the door from all angles. What had been a tightly packed section now had more gaps than our backline. Creeping out early isn't my go, and I'm glad that if nothing else I got to stay for McDonald kicking six. Did I mention that he kicked six? Everything else was best avoided.

2018 Allen Jakovich Medal votes
There are good days where you can't pick between 10 players deserving of votes, there are bad games where a handful of players sit atop a shitberg and deservedly make the cut, then there are days like this where almost everyone was no good.

5 - Tom McDonald
--- Immense realms of space, and even then it's only the goals that got him up ---
4 - Clayton Oliver
--- The distance between Earth and Mars, even though it wasn't in his 20 best games ---
3 - Bayley Fritsch
2 - Joel Smith

And now, after a rigorous statistical analysis designed to get anybody else a vote I have to admit defeat. The person who said this...
... has to admit that even with zero tackles and a playing pace best suited to a retirement village that I can't make a legitimate case for anybody else. This is a very difficult situation for me and I would ask for privacy.

1 - Jordan Lewis

Apologies to nobody. Sod the lot of you.

The Sizzle Show arrives in the top five, but the big news is at the top where Oliver takes advantage of a rapidly receding tide to open a comprehensive lead. After grappling with Gawn and Hogan for the first half of the year he will be hard to beat now. We're going on 56 Watch in case he challenges the total from Nathan Jones' dominant 2014 campaign.

For fans of the minors there's no move in the Seecamp, but Fritsch has further established what will probably be an unbeatable lead in the Hilton. I'm not in a position to declare him provisional winner yet, but given none of his opposition have polled a vote one more might get him there.

31 - Clayton Oliver
24 - Max Gawn (PROVISIONAL WINNER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
22 - Jesse Hogan
14 - Nathan Jones
13 - Tom McDonald
11 - Jake Melksham
9 - Bayley Fritsch (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Rising Star Medal)
7 - Angus Brayshaw
5 - Jeff Garlett, Mitch Hannan, Neville Jetta (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Jordan Lewis, Christian Petracca
4 - Oscar McDonald
3 - James Harmes, Dean Kent, Jake Lever, Alex Neal-Bullen
2 - Michael Hibberd
1 - Neville Jetta, Cameron Pedersen, Christian Salem, Joel Smith, Jack Viney

Aaron Davey Medal for Goal of the Year
Most of them came from 20 metres out via McDonald (who kicked six), and as much as I enjoyed the mark he juggled on the line I'm going to flash right back to the start of the game and pick Mitch Hannan's opener on the run. For the weekly prize he wins a free pass for only having eight kicks, which is a pretty shithouse offering but it's 00:35, I've lost the will to live and would really like to go to bed now.

Tyson at Docklands retains the clubhouse lead at the halfway mark in a surprisingly dull year for spectacular goals.

Almost the end of two great runs here, as ours gets up solely on the tiebreakers of the snowflake effect and the opposition having a lift up and run under psuedo curtain. I legitimately enjoyed Collingwood's effort, the font was the best seen from any opposition this year, the kerning was impeccable, and even the gag on the back about us fucking it up in Round 23 last year was both accurate and flowed well. Highly commended, still lost. Dees 12-0 for the year.

Shrinkage Chat
The impact of getting AFL coaches to fly in from around the country for the Big Freeze was somewhat deadened by the MCG keeping the gates shut until 30 minutes before it started, leaving Goodwin to go down first to what looked like a typical Melbourne home game crowd. It was a massive cock-up by the MCC (that would be the Melbourne Cricket Club in this case) not to let people in earlier, by the time I got there the queue to get in to the Southern Stand was about 300 metres long. To their credit - and the security guards who just gave up on bag checks - it only took 13 minutes to get into the ground.

There was a weird dynamic to the line where we started in twos, then as we got closer to the walkway people fanned out to head for the various entrances (all the while watching plenty of people sneaking into the line via the break created on the concourse for people to walk through). There should be an anthropological study of the way we all just followed like sheep before breaking away to follow the queues at the end. Fascinating? Not to anyone whose football team turned up I'm sure.

Fortunately for the people stuck outside, Channel 7 halted proceedings every two minutes for ads so by the last few coaches there was a decent audience. The atmosphere was still a bit flat, they might have to drop a polar bear in there next year to liven things up. The only surprise was John Longmire not wearing speedos and giving us a live demonstration of why he's called 'Horse'. I'm just happy to have been there for the remarkable scenario of Chris Fagan doing a hammy going arse over on his way out while dressed like a priest. At least nobody dipped into the MFC fancy dress box and turned up as Rolf Harris.

The star of show was obviously Neale Daniher, who continues to battle his condition like an absolute trooper. I didn't see it properly until after the game, but how good was his speech to the coaches? You could tell he knew it was going to be the last time he'd be able to do something like that so he was giving it his all. It was hard to watch him walking around the ground knowing that by this time next year he probably won't be able to do that, or possibly even talk, but what a legacy he will leave for the Fight MND campaign. Suffice to say give money.

Crowd Watch (incorporating Matchday Experience Watch)
With no desire to be anywhere near Collingwood fans I went back to Redlegs area for the first time since last Queen's Birthday. And ended up sitting across the aisle from one of them. He didn't seem to be with anyone so it's anybody's guess how he got in there, but whoever lent him their membership should have it revoked. Good timing too, in the week where the club sent an email to premium members reminding them not to let their guests act like arseholes.

Not that he was in any way badly behaved, certainly better than the corporate box full of scumbags I swore at after Watts' goal, but when you go to an era specifically designated for the fans of your club even somebody having a relaxed, respectful good time following the other side is provocative. I was expecting a repeat of that day about five years ago when a happy Geelong fan was screamed at by a vein-popping Demons man, but nobody else seemed to care.

It was appropriate that the 'Melbourne Experiences' superbox behind me was empty, but surprising that they couldn't sell it off for the biggest game of the year. I'd have been happy to sit there in the dark and without catering just to have had somewhere to do my Donald Duck impersonation during the first quarter. Or late in the third quarter. By the last I was over it.

At quarter time the football world held their breath waiting to see if we'd hold our nerve and not let one crippling injury in four years derail the Howie's Hangers/Hogan's Heroes legacy. When I looked up from my misery to see three men in overalls I thought "you magnificent bastards, they're just going to carry on like nothing happened". Then it was revealed that it had been rebranded Hogan's Highball, and would not feature a mechanical device shooting the ball for contestants to take a safe, ground level chest mark. Which is about the most boring concept ever:

a) Why can't they still call it Hogan's Heroes? Did we lose the name in a settlement?
b) Why did we have somebody manually delivering the ball in the competition that had a high degree of danger and not when it's as likely to cause injury as a casual kick in the park?

It's been six victory filled weeks since that bloke clobbered himself at the Richmond game, I'm deflated that this is the best they could come up with as a replacement. At least we're not going with a Kiss Cam, though on this occasion there was a half time proposal featuring a Demons man who will now be constantly forced to relive a poxy day at the footy by his Pies supporting partner. At least he'll always remember where he was when Tom McDonald kicked six.

And finally on Matchday Experience, congratulations to the young hoodlum who finally reacted to being caught on "Is your head in the clouds?" by flipping off the camera. Took involving a Collingwood fan for somebody to finally get that right.

Next week(s)
You'd say that Casey having the bye at the same time as the seniors made sense, it's just hard to swallow when they have two others during the season. What I could really do with this week is a game against a decent strength opposition to put the fire under our fringe players, but instead we'll just have to go on the evidence from Sunday's game against the Pies. Even though they won, the half I watched didn't turn up too many exciting performances other than Tyson racking up a shitload of touches.

I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater after one defeat where we still scored 91 but I'd like to try something different. Pedersen was ok in the circumstances but didn't do enough to cement his spot ahead of Smith, and Spargo goes out with the greatest of apologies. He didn't stop trying, but sit him down with a copy of the second quarter, tell him to do that all day and enjoy the profits when he comes back. It doesn't do much for the pace issue, but I'll roll Tyson back in to give us another midfield option. I won't be adverse to rolling him back out again if it doesn't work. Then there's Hunt for Vince, which might not be like for like but Bernard is fast approaching the point where he might think about putting his hand up so may as well get somebody who can run quickly.

Our criminal lack of forward 50 pressure opens a case for Garlett, but going off base stats alone (which is always dangerous) it's not like his tackle count suggests he'll be tearing opponents to shreds. I suppose unlike many of the players involved today he might imply pressure instead of standing there gawking while the ball rockets to the other end. Still not convinced.

IN: Hunt, T. Smith, Tyson
OUT: Pedersen, Spargo, Vince (omit)
LUCKY: Lewis, Petracca
UNLUCKY: Garlett, Petty

I'm not expecting to beat Port away, and am bracing for Watts to kick nine as Trengove debuts with 40 touches, but the strength of the reaction to this result will tell me if we really are top eight contenders or are going to achieve the rare feat of going 24-20 over two years and still not playing finals.

P.S - This assumes McDonald and Jetta both play, if they don't I might drop my toaster in the tub sometime during the week.

Tuesday afternoon update - Turns out Hunt did his ankle in the VFL and is out for the dreaded 4-6. There goes the speed.

Stat My Bitch Up
I take it 6989 to 83,518 is the biggest jump in attendance between home games ever...

The All New Bradbury Plan
I'm not the kind of guy to say I told you so, but I told you so. This result is one in the eye for all you lunatics who were trying to get Top 4 or even Top 2 plans started after Richmond lost Friday night. My rolling Round 23 ladder now has us making it on percentage only if we win the last game. That's a Tony Abbott style level of conservatism but you'd be mad to be too optimistic with this lot.

This week sees a new bracket created to cover Collingwood, who have a piss easy draw from here and should make it comfortably. They can now be used as spoilers to take games off the sides that will be contending against us. This is a volatile spot to be in, vulnerable to being relegated back to the mid-table Royal Rumble group with one surprise defeat.

It seems strange to say when they're currently 11th, but Hawthorn were close to being named in this group as well. The reason is that they play Gold Coast, Footscray, Brisbane and Carlton in coming weeks and will start favourite against Adelaide, Fremantle and Essendon as well. Here's to the last two doing us a favour and messing with them.

Can win every week - will finish above us - Richmond and West Coast
Unlikely to be in the battle for 6th - 10th so may as well win - Port Adelaide () and Sydney ()
Likely to make the eight, usually still want them to lose - Collingwood ()
Lose against higher teams, beat lower teams, take games off each other 
Adelaide, Geelong, Hawthorn, GWS and North Melbourne
Preferred result depends on opposition, usually want a win - Fremantle ()
Win against higher teams, lose against lower teams - Essendon and Footscray
Good value as spoilers only - Brisbane, Carlton, Gold Coast and St Kilda

Given that we've got the bye this week I'll give you the top eight plan how-to-vote cards for the next two rounds:

Round 13
Footscray d. Port Adelaide
West Coast d. Sydney
Carlton d. Fremantle
Gold Coast/St Kilda irrelevant (and the game doesn't have any bearing on the eight either)
Hawthorn d. Adelaide (close to 50/50, but the Hawks have a piss easy run after this so may as well concede they'll make it and try to damage the Crows)
Richmond d. Geelong

Round 14 (card subject to change)
Not much for the plan here, other than West Coast putting Essendon away I don't expect any of the required results to get up.

West Coast d. Essendon
Gold Coast d. Hawthorn
Brisbane d. GWS
Footscray d. North
Carlton d. Collingwood

Administrative announcement(s)
The festive atmosphere around the official launch of the Demonblog Megastore has now fizzed out, but at the same time please consider. If you have any designs that skirt the edges of Australian copyright law and would like to submit to the store (and you can have the majority of the profits on your work, I'm just in it for the comedy value) please contact us via the usual channels. Also valid if you're the club sending us a cease and desist letter.

Secondly, the 1998 season in review post that was being forward sizzled on here last week is out and my goodness it's a long one. It's also an instructive look at how a season that started with a loss, had a nice winning streak in the middle, then spent the second half of the year regularly hitting the skids can turn out alright. Also features Garry Lyon in a jolly chef's hat:

Furthermore listen to this on Wednesday night if you want to hear me ask Paul Roos stupid questions and for him to declare the Grimgove captaincy as 'lunacy'.

Was it worth it?
Well it wasn't my preferred result in front of 83,000 people but it's not the end of the world either. I wish we could get on with the next game ASAP instead of waiting a week, but it's probably come at a good time for us to review where we're at. Give me the response I want against Port and let's talk about the rest of the year from there.

Final thoughts


  1. I agree with your sentiments, apart from giving Lewis a sympathy vote. Most of his 33 possessions went straight to the opposition or sold a teammate into trouble. If Nifty and Sizzle Jr had been 100%, Lewis would have been subbed off early. To be fair, I suspect Lewis and Jones are playing with injuries but Goodwin is not one for excuses. Anyway, we looked tired and slow after being "up" for 6 weeks and the bye has come at the right time. Good to see Haymes Paints still strapped in for the journey even if Robbo is wondering whether he'll lose his house.

    1. I can't tell you how hard I tried to justify somebody else getting the 1 ahead of him. It was that sort of a flat as fuck performance that I couldn't even find five players deserving.


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