Sunday, 3 June 2018

Six won and tons for fun

When our obliteration of Carlton was all but ignored by the media I was deflated, but the benefits of sneaking under the radar have never been more obvious in the wake of our piledriver job on the Crows. By about the third article suggesting us a live chance to win the flag I'd started doing the two hands out, palms moving in a downwards motion "everybody be cool" gesture.

I think by now we're all aware that two traditionally shit sides have rocketed to unexpected flags over the last two years, but as they say in superannuation ads "past performance is a not a reliable indicator of future returns". It wouldn't matter if the AFL's dream had come true and GWS were aiming for the hat-trick, we're still as unlikely to achieve ultimate success as ever before. I'm enjoying the ride, but for now my focus is still on simply having a ticket in the lottery rather than winning it.

What passes for a frenzy around these parts peaked when Champion Data declared us a 96% chance of finishing in the top eight, and a better than average chance of making the four. They may be acknowledged masters in counting stats, but I'm not sure why we should trust their soothsaying ability. The most important revelation for me was that we are officially a 0% chance at finishing last. Some years we were a 0% chance of winning a game until June.

It was starting to feel a lot like the interval between West Coast and Sydney last year, where we got to the giddy heights of fifth and were lectured for being worried about it all going wrong shortly before it all went wrong. Last year the Swans were in red hot form, this time the Bulldogs were in anything but. I couldn't decide whether that made me any more or less worried. Neutrals gave it the full David King and chastised us for being cautious. Our average score was twice theirs and we'd put three teams in a row to the sword, from an outsiders' perspective of course there was nothing to worry about. Those of us who are in the know didn't need to explain ourselves, there is a permanent tension about finding ways to self-sabotage.

The more we win as favourites the more I expect Scooby Doo and Friends to turn up expose that we're not as good as we thought, leaving Simon Goodwin to be carted off yelling "And I would have gotten away with it to if it wasn't for you meddling kids". It was appropriate that during the week a journalist lured Goodwin into an impression of the guy from Wolf of Wall Street who also said: "How the fuck else would you do this job? Coke and hookers..." Must have had a flashback to working at Essendon. The Bulldogs did their bit for Jordan Belfort Round by driving into attack like they were heavily medicated, and by stealing money from everyone who'd bought a membership.

I was so nervous about prematurely ending this wonderful, life-affirming run of wins that during the warm-ups I didn't look twice at our team. My permanent gaze was on the Dogs, who spent most of the time between running on and the first bounce kicking over each other's head, or landing simple handballs a metre short of the target. This gave me as much confidence as I was going to get, as long as we put the minimum required amount of pressure on them they should have folded like a house of cards. Then next thing you knew we were three goals down, and they only narrowly failed to extend the margin into Stranglewank territory.

The result suggests that even a four goal margin wouldn't have been enough, but after we'd attacked several times for no reward and they'd gone down the other end for three in a row there was plenty of energy about them. There was also acres of space, with Gawn's taps being immediately sharked by Dogs midfielders, and exits from packs to players so far in the clear that they could afford for a simple handball to miss and still have time to recover. Premature adjudication is about the only thing football fans do better than hurling abuse at umpires, and there would be plenty of opportunities to indulge in both during the first quarter.

My blood pressure was already on the rise as I started to take the idea of losing unexpectedly very poorly. I began to curse the players who'd just delivered some of the most memorable weeks in my life as arseholes for not treating St. Nathan Jones' 250th game with the respect it deserved. A string of numpty decisions, often coming from some plonker 50 metres off the ball who desperately wanted to get involved further aggravated the situation. The amusing thing was that in the first half we felt the umpires were rorting us, and in the second Dogs fans were left bawling about everything. It left the truth neatly in the middle - the umpiring was shite but it wasn't the determining factor in the result.

Tell me that in the first quarter, as I was reaching into my filing cabinet of excuses to pull out the files marked 'Injuries' and 'Umpires' in case of emergency. With Jones about to win a milestone match for the first time since his debut, and Charlie Spargo ready to open up the unimaginable career record of 6-0, it was left to Jake Lever to wear all the old style MFC bad luck on his own. I always expect good times to be followed by disaster at this club, but even with a terminal case of Melbourne Supporter Depression Syndrome I didn't expect him to go from playing a starring role in rumbling his old club to an ACL in six days. There goes the Round 19 Carnival of Hate - and any rematch in the early stages of 2019. Let's hope he's not the new Mitch Clark and is forced into retirement before ever getting the chance to face his old side. In solidarity with Jake, I ask you to pull the Jever one more time this season:

Long term it's a crucial loss, coming just as the defence had clicked after a rocky start, but on the day it mattered little. Firstly, the Bulldogs were trying the tactical innovation of playing without a forward line. Secondly, the gap in intercept marking left by Lever hobbling off was expertly filled by Sir Neville Jetta, who provided a wall so impenetrable that they're lobbying to stick him between the USA and Mexico. In the air, on the land, and if the job had required probably in the sea he was picking off everything that came near him.

The only short term issue was Jake Melksham also disappearing with an ankle injury. The war of attrition saw a Bulldogs player's hammy burst like a watermelon dropped from a scaffold, and immediately after Milkshake finally came back 30 minutes later - presumably after rising above his Stephen Dank flashbacks and being pumped full of painkillers, Tim Smith went off too. Other than a pair of kicks in quick succession during the third quarter delivered with better force and accuracy than a laser-guided missile, Melksham was not his usual excitable self, but both he and Smith were able to adequately play support to the Hulk Sizzle forward experience that provided a match-winning nine goals between them.

Sitting on one measly point in the last five minutes of the first quarter, and with our attempt at the world record streak for winning quarters almost certainly stuffed (spoiler: it was), the crucial first goal came from a strong mark from McDonald. He added to the sense of occasion by chatting with the Bulldogs player who'd been clattered to the ground in the contest after the mark. It was another excellent day for the 2013 Demonbracket winner, despite later missing a sitter for the first time all year. Maybe that's not such a bad thing, now I know his set shots are fallible again I might not get so wound up at the prospect of a miss whenever he's having one.

If we do something insane like putting him down back again to cover Lever I will be the first person ever to turn on a coach who has won six games in a row. I'm not even happy with the time he spends on the wing, other than the odd drop back into defence during DemonTime™ I don't want him doing anything but either delivering the ball into attack or standing in attack waiting for it to be delivered to him. After zero goals in 59 games, and eight in 104, the countdown is now on to the day where McDonald's average passes one per game. And once the celebrations die down we will never treat averages like they mean anything ever again.

That goal took all the wind out of Footscray's sails, they only got one more for the half and four more for the game. We did lose the quarter, but got close enough to imply an impending steamrolling courtesy of a very popular goal by that man Jones. It's a bit panicky to refer to something happening in the last two minutes of the first quarter as a 'captain's goal' (except in the strict definition of it being a goal by the captain) but it was not an easy set shot from right on the 50 and much to the glee of the assembled faithful he hit it perfectly. His teammates mobbed him, and if I wasn't two levels up and unwilling to pay a significant fine I've climbed the fence and leapt on him too.

Words cannot do justice to my love for Jones. To stay loyal and dedicated after the burden he's had to carry over the last few years has already made him an icon of the club no matter what happens from here. As much as my main selfish priority is winning a flag to satisfy myself, doing it for him is a close second. Apart from being midfielders who played for Melbourne he hasn't got much in common with Robbie Flower, except that different generations both hold a torch for them because of what they did for shit teams without legging it to chase glory at a better club. He will be treated like a god by our supporters for the rest of his life, whereas good luck to Frawley for getting a flag but he'll be sitting on a table at a premiership reunion in a few years and nobody will want to talk to him.

There's an idea that things would have turned out better if he'd been made captain in 2012 instead of the ill-feted Grimes and Trengove ticket, but that involves a rewrite of history to suggest that he was always this colossal figure carrying the club on his back. After a couple of belting seasons early in his career - including winning his first Jakovich at 19-years-old - he settled into being a solid cog in the wheel from 2009 through 2011. Considering that he's 174 votes ahead of second place in the all-time Jako leaderboard it seems weird now that I only gave him a single solitary vote in the promising otherwise 2010 season, but at that stage you still had McDonald, Moloney, Sylvia (once every few weeks) and Green, with Trengove and $cully coming into the mix as well. He played every game both that year and 2011, and didn't do anything wrong but it wasn't like anyone was surprised at the time when he didn't get the job.

In the end he might have been a better option anyway, but instead Grimgove took the bullet and gave Jones the clear air to start building something special. I'm not sure how much it had to do with the coach, but he may have been the only player to get significantly better during the Neeld debacle. As much as anything he probably just leapt into the void caused by the falling out between coach and Brent Moloney. By the time he became co-captain alongside Grimes in 2014 the only surprise is that they didn't give him the job on his own and set Jack free. Finally, if there is anyone insane enough to doubt his commitment let the record show that since Round 9, 2008 he's paid $20,750 in fines, including participating in four melees and starting one. What a man. I may be high on victory, but given that the most intense period of my supporting life has been since 2007 I'd probably rank him second behind only Jakovich in my all-time favourite players.

I'll write flowery tributes to Jones until the small hours of the morning, but on this day we went close to undoing his goal instantly by giving the ball up out of the middle again. Then we only narrowly avoiding gifting the Dogs a last minute goal that would have caused me to hit the roof. And where I sit that wouldn't take much effort. We survived, and got to quarter time in decent shape considering the beating we'd taken at clearances and contested possessions. Other than the goals it was only Jetta in defence, and Oliver's sixth sense disposals that were keeping us from an even larger hole.

What passes for normal service these days resumed almost immediately at the start of the second quarter via Neal-Bullen being in perfect position to mark a kick by Hogan that would have been genius if it was deliberate. Best to claim it was. The lead swung back and forth during the quarter, but by now it was clear we were the better side and only a post-Alice fade-out in the last quarter could stop us. It was just a case of banking the insurance scores now in case that happened. Ultimately, unless you blame Lever doing his knee in innocuous circumstances on the Northern Territory there was no sign of ill-effects from the lucrative northern jaunt.

There were still concerning lapses in pressure that won't translate well to playing good teams. For instance, how many times did the ball shoot straight from 40 or 50 metres away from our goal unchallenged? At times there was manic pressure - especially when the bloke handballed it straight to Petracca in the square - but equally a number of promising attacks came because nobody could get a hand on, or get in the way of, a player exiting defensive 50. Luckily for us it was one thing to take it out of defence smoothly, it was another to find anyone up the field to do something with it. There are plenty of teams who will know exactly what to do in these circumstances if we don't tighten up.

Conversely, around the ground and in defence the pressure was top shelf. Gawn got around burying men both big and small in giant bear sized tackles, including one that set McDonald up to trot in for his second and achieve a personal seven point play after a previous miss. Speaking of McDonald, Hibberd played a game that was an obvious tribute to the days when Defender Tom would do 50% things that were fantastic, and 50% things that were awful. He had a couple of cracking blunders, but given the quality of the opposition we didn't take too much damage from them.

The game was practically won in the space of a minute when Hogan steered through a banana, then McDonald marked a perfectly weighted Harmes kick to the top of the square. The Harmy Army were in raptures as he had a hand in another one to Hogan straight after, and the margin was out to 16. He later took an absolute screamer, and no doubt was the subject of a dozen 'humorous' references to the 1979 Grand Final by Eddie McGuire on commentary. The gap wasn't much, but I was convinced that they couldn't hold us out long enough to kick a winning score. They only got 21 more points for the whole game so it proved to a reasonable theory.

Six of them came in the first thirty seconds when Jetta had his only moment of doubt all day and allowed them to goal from the square. It was charity that just delayed the inevitable. Their big defensive fuckup gifted Petracca, then Melksham unloaded his Cruise Missile kick to Brayshaw, which subsequently found its way to Hogan on his own in front of goal. Melk's kick may have been the greatest ever delivered by a player who had a sub-50% disposal efficiency in the game, diagonally into the centre of the ground to a player with acres of space in front of him. If the AFL was serious about fan engagement they'd adopt US military technology and put a camera inside the ball so you could see it drop straight into Gus' hands.

Brayshaw had another great day of accumulation, further extending his career best disposal tally to 39. He wasted a few of them, and it was nowhere near as good a game as last week but our multi-pronged midfield is becoming increasingly difficult to stop. Oliver was only one touch further back, but made far more of them, and when they're both on it removes much of the heat from Viney and Jones. About the only place we weren't consistently getting possessions was around the stoppages.

Walking the line of defence and midfield like nobody since the purple patch early in Jayden Hunt's career, Bayley Fritsch was spectacular in rebounding from defence. Raw stats are piss, but I'm not going to turn my back on anyone taking 14 marks. It's shocking news for Hunt, who like Watts has never been the same again since that Facebook Live session live from the spa after Queen's Birthday,  but excellent news for our run off the half-back line.

It wasn't quite the severity of avalanche that we've dealt out in the last few weeks, but when Hannan kicked into the third row from a metre out to make it nearly six goals the difference I was quietly confident that we could play until Tuesday and the Dogs wouldn't have gotten close. As much as I was keen on putting through two more and troubling the Chris Sullivan Line for the third week in a row, we had to absorb a few minutes before three quarter time where the Dogs had a genuine crack. There was a serious moment of doubt when the quarter ended with one of them having a shot 40 metres out directly in front to cut the margin to less than four goals. Happily, he missed and the prospects of us suffering an unlikely choke went from unlikely to negligible.

What I needed to calm the nerves was a few quick goals, and Hogan did his bit with the first. Gawn took the ball with his back to goal and could have brought the house down by attempting a +200cm snap over his head, but he did the team thing and gave it off to Hulk for what started as an unsure attempt to find another option, involved him doing a live version of his stuttering run-up and eventually ended with him casually slicing it through from the pocket.

His desire to find somebody else to gift the goal to was symptomatic of what we were going to see over the next few minutes. If trying to set up a teammate for a cheap one is the sign of a good morale then we must be going places, because at times it started to get ridiculous. The worst was a giant looping handball to Hogan running into the square by a player who should have just turned around and kicked a goal from 15 metres out. Hogan got hands to the ball, but had to drag it down from above his head and was tackled immediately while trying to barge his way through a much smaller man. I cracked the sads. You know you're a Melbourne fan when your side is 35 points up early in the last quarter and you're fretting about Hollywood plays costing us goals. Actually that's nothing like being a Melbourne fan.

Lacking a decisive goal to finally convince them it was all over, Bulldogs fans started leaving at the 13 minute mark. It was like a standing ovation at an ordinary play, where a couple of enthusiastic people got up, a few more followed because they didn't want to be left out, and before long everyone was on their feet whether they wanted to be or not. We eventually got two more goals to push the margin towards 50, an impressive winning margin considering it never got beyond second gear.

The spirit of giving finally worked when Spargo gifted Brayshaw one. He even had enough time to fall over in the square, recover and snap the goal. It's rude to question the sources of goals when you're getting this many, but have you noticed how little crumb we'd had over the last couple of weeks? Watching the highlights and seeing Melksham create the goal by gathering the ball off a pack and quickly kicking around the corner reminded me that we haven't been plucking them out of stoppages inside 50 as much as usual. We've had to settle for Hogan kicking 10 in two weeks instead. Oh well.

The Dogs were horrid for the last 3.5 quarters, but you can't help but laugh at Luke Beveridge's comment that the flag "hasn't done anyone a favour". I know coaches are different types of human, and that he would have been thinking about the next campaign a day after winning it, but now that we're only just emerging from the footballing morgue it feels comical that a club could be so miserable just two years after winning it all. He's not strictly correct anyway, it also bought Tom Boyd another few years of collecting mad money for playing like he's only there because somebody's holding his family hostage.

Having already been forced to shelve the proposed Nathan Jonestown Massacre headline after the first quarter, I needed our score to hit triple figures to set up its replacement. With a few minutes left we hit 99, then spent the entire time between then and the siren missing opportunities to add the extra digit. Fortunately for fans of Sugarhill Gang references, the ball dropped to Hogan seconds before the end. As an eagle eye stat fan points out, it was the third game in a row where we've had a shot after the siren. He missed, but by avoiding a Sticks Kernahan style out on the full we got the required point and I went home happy safe in the knowledge that I didn't have to come up with another title.

I went home even happier after watching Nathan Jones being chaired off. For a second it looked like the height difference in the Gawn/Vince combo was going to lead to him being torn apart like Brad Green in plum distress. That would have been appropriately Melbournish, the player who has carried such a heavy load plummeting to earth and suffering a career ending concussion after his groin is torn to shreds. But he survived - tellingly returning to each before the curse could get him - and walked off under his own steam. It seems impolite to say it in a week where David Neitz was named to the sport's Hall of Fame, but I hope Jones goes on to take our games record. Then we will build a statue.

2018 Allen Jakovich Medal votes
Nifty has never had a Brownlow vote, and while to be fair he didn't deserve one for the first few years of his career, this is an occasion where if you're naming best players under any system under the sun and you don't include him you should be deregistered. I have no hesitation giving him full reward.

5 - Neville Jetta
4 - Tom McDonald
3 - Clayton Oliver
2 - Bayley Fritsch
1 - Jesse Hogan

Tremendous apologies to Brayshaw and Gawn. I never thought I wouldn't find a spot for somebody who had 39 touches and one with 57 hitouts but here we are. Last time I didn't give Max a vote my mail had to be screened by the Federal Police for a week so here's hoping for a better reaction this time. Next level apologies to Harmes, Jones, Lewis, Salem and Viney.

It's advantage midfield, as the Hamburglar grabs the lead back. With Hogan also scoring, it further entrenches the top three as the only ones who can win it unless somebody has a Jakovich-esque second half of the year. In the minors, Fritsch extends his grip on the Hilton and Jetta's big day out seems him overtake perennial apology receiver Oscar McDonald in the Seecamp.

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

Aaron Davey Medal for Goal of the Year
Given that we had to create proper goals this week instead of just walking them in from the square, there were a few decent contenders to choose from. On another day, the easy goal set up by Melksham's laser kick might have won just for the solid gold assist, but he's squeezed out by a pair of worthy contenders. First runner up is Jones' set shot in the first quarter, a perfectly taken goal at a crucial time when we looked wobblier than a Liberian cargo tanker.

He would have won too, if it wasn't for Hogan from the boundary line in the last quarter. The game was shot by that stage, but I've got an unrestrained fetish for goals that look effortless, and/or like the kicker considered half a dozen other options before deciding to lob it through himself. In a quarter where we wasted multiple opportunities by trying to give everyone a touch on the way through I'm glad sanity prevailed and he sliced it through with the greatest of ease. There's added entertainment value that I didn't spot at first, where after Gawn's handball Jackson Trengove stands there arguing while Hogan is right behind him sizing up the goal.

Tyson (remember him?) at Docklands retains the clubhouse lead, but for the weekly prize Hulk wins a voucher to receive a free one-on-one training ground spoil from Neville Jetta.

Footscray's 'funny' banners were stale ever before they achieved the great Australian dream and snagged an unexpected flag, but like The Simpsons they're seeing how far they can get before somebody orders a mercy killing. This time they stayed away from class warfare about how rich we all are, and instead a topical gag about the 1954 Grand Final. To be fair they could have just put up WE CONCEDE and it was never going to beat the Jones 250 banner. We came with a giant picture of the great man, and delightfully designed text. Another win to the good guys and 11-0 for the year.

Crowd Watch
So it's farewell Fortress Shithole for the last time this year. And in that case, farewell Etihad Stadium forever. There sure was a lot of angst about renaming it Marvel Stadium, as if what they call the venues is going to be your biggest problem when the sport is 16-a-side with zones, designed by and for dickheads with short attention spans.

It may be our #1 ground for footballery, but I rediscovered my dislike for going there when a sparse crowd 20 minutes before the bounce unexpectedly blew up in the last 10 minutes and I ended up with an entire family in front of me. I hate sitting behind kids, not only do you feel like an undesirable when the odd swear word slips out, but even when you're just making indistinguishable noises of angst they always turn around and look at you like a terrible person.

Obviously after quarter time my demeanour would have improved to the point where covert, under the breath filth was no longer required, but oddly while the wing I was on had people all the way to Row X, the opposite side still had a good five rows of free space. I don't understand why, the ground is a mirror image on either side so there's nothing special about whether you're here or there. Still, at least it gave me the opportunity to do a runner from the kids and an old man with tracksuit pants nearly pulled up to his nipples who deliberately changed rows to sit near me. My radio only gives you sound out of one earphone, but you'd better believe I put the second one in anyway when it started to look like there'd be footy mingling.

There was a remarkable scene at half time when I went for a nerve settling drink. The girl in front of me opened the cabinet and as the top level shelving tilted ever so slightly to the right it turned a plastic divider into a ramp which caused 600ml Coke bottles to start firing out of the cabinet and onto the floor one by one like people jumping from a burning building. It emptied an entire row, and had just started on the next when somebody enjoying the crisis less than me dived in and shut the door. Pity.

This segment now usually incorporates matchday experience, but I'm adding that to the title today because there was none. Except after the siren when the hapless Bulldogs MC had to try and plug their next home game to 2500 remaining loyalists and 10,000 Dees fans gagging to fawn over Nathan Jones. There was also some justice for St Kilda, when 'Oblivious Cam' made a surprise reappearance and it was proved to be a stadium 'innovation' rather than some old shit they'd come up with. It still doesn't have a sponsor, which makes it completely pointless in my book, but you could hear legitimate laughs around the ground so who am I to try and legislate for good taste?

Next week
Without doubt the biggest Queen's Birthday game of the modern era. 2006 was 3rd vs 6th and drew nearly 79,000 people but it lacked the Big Freeze gimmick, the feelgood factor of both sides coming back from different shades of death and the memories of a complete bloody fiasco the last time we played. Here's to laying a tackle in the first quarter and not giving goals away with wank-handed attempts at spoiling in the square.

I never thought it would come to this, but does a Redlegs membership guarantee entry? Obviously a Trident would because you've got a specific seat that no other bastard can occupy, but I've no doubt they oversell the reserved area safe in the knowledge that you're never going to get every single person showing up. This may be as close as we get, and I don't mind bunging a few dollars to the swine at Ticketmaster (if for nothing else, as a pre-season warm-up in case I've got to deal with them in September) if there's even the remotest chance of not getting in and being left watching on my phone in the park. [Monday update - called the club and apparently it is a guaranteed entry. Apologies to the helpful membership line attendant who thought I was being rude asking if they oversold that area. I'm legitimately surprised they don't. Also got to hear the Grand Old Flag about nine times on hold because they were dealing with such a frenzy of membership purchases]

The Lever injury brings our three weeks of selection stability to a close. I'm surprised at people raising names other than Frost as his replacement. Surely "see ball, run quickly at ball, deal with ball" is exactly what Frost will do best? Wild, unfocused kicks coming out of defence are another matter, but as much as I want to see Harrison Petty at some point I'm not game to debut him in front of 85,000 people with the possibility of an American novelty player kicking eight. Would also be comfortable giving Joel Smith a run later, but not yet. Give me Frost and another snatch and grab like this:

With an eight day break it's hard to make an argument for anybody needing a rest, so otherwise no need for significant alterations. If Melksham doesn't come up once the elephant juice wears off I have no doubt there will be clamour for Garlett, but in this case I am prepared to hand somebody a debut (for us anyway) and play Harley Balic. Mind you, imagine the off-the-ball CHAOS that Bugg could cause in front of that sort of audience? He could niggle to the point where fans are coming over the fence at him.

IN: Frost
OUT: Lever (inj)
LUCKY: Smith (only because I want Pedersen in)
UNLUCKY: Balic, Bugg, Pedersen

The All New Bradbury Plan
I'm aware that a group of fans are selling bootleg versions of the plan that are more concerned with us making the top four than the eight. I say let's concentrate on just getting in, my latest ladder prediction has two sides missing the finals with 13 wins so this is no time to take your eyes off the prize.We also need to protect our hard-won percentage and not throw it away by going bonkers for a couple of weeks.

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 - Sydney ()
Lose against higher teams, beat lower teams, take games off each other (the Royal Rumble group) - Adelaide, Collingwood, Geelong, GWS, Hawthorn, North Melbourne and Port Adelaide
Preferred result depends on opposition, usually want a win - [Empty]
Win against higher teams, lose against lower teams - Essendon, Fremantle () and Footscray
Good value as spoilers only - Brisbane, Carlton, Gold Coast () and St Kilda

Your how to vote card for Round 12 (based on the top eight plan) is:

Richmond d. Port Adelaide (this is now super important after Port losing this week)
North d. Geelong (almost a 50/50, but better to waste a Cats home game. Won't be crestfallen if it goes the other way)
Gold Coast d. GWS
St Kilda d. Sydney
Brisbane d. Essendon
Fremantle d. Adelaide

Administrative announcement
Ever since Hotter Than Hell 1998 appeared on YouTube I've been sizzling up a 20 year anniversary review post. We'll also review the best moments of Footy Record, remember the great moments of the year like the very un-PC "kick it here Hynesy you poofter" and when I make a dickhead of myself as a pissed 17-year-old in a corporate box. I'm hoping to finish it by midweek. Keep an eye on the usual channels for a link. Until then, here's Marcus Seecamp punching Brad Pearce in the face:

Random House
I suspect our second book - covering five years or a flag, whatever comes first, will be a significantly jollier read than the original. Which will make it far less interesting, so if you haven't already you may want to discover the moments of farceshambles that have inadvertently led us to the positive position we're in now.

Here's the complication, Amazon and the Australian government are having a punch-up and either they're going to stop sending here or slap a tax on everything you buy. So, if you're interested in a book that takes 42 pages to get to as many wins as we've had in the last six weeks I'm altering the process. Unless you want the Kindle version, all orders can now be made directly from our warehouse (currently a box sitting in my office containing five spare copies). Please leave a note if you want anything kooky written on the inside cover.

Was it worth it?
It certainly was. The game itself was nothing special, though not likely to be cited in this week's long list of articles by ex-players delivering their 'brilliant' ideas for 'improving' the game, but every building block towards the eight (for now...) is worth seeing in person. Also I would walk 500 miles for Jones then I'd walk 500 more so there's that.

Final thoughts
Back in the days where we lost 38 games out of 44 you often wondered if we'd ever win again. Even having little experience of being in this strong a position - having not seen this many consecutive since Round 10-15, 2006 - I know that one certainty is it'll end at some point. That may very well be next week, or in Adelaide after the bye, but either way we're building a fantastic position to spring at the rest of the league like a venomous snake in the future. Even better, let's give everyone the Kenneth Pinyan treatment from here to October and win the flag in a canter.


  1. For this alone we need Bugg IN!

    "Mind you, imagine the off-the-ball CHAOS that Bugg could cause in front of that sort of audience? He could niggle to the point where fans are coming over the fence at him."

    I would pay serious money to see this. Flights, hotel, reserved tickets ... all of these things.

  2. Mentioning the esteemed Mr Pinyan in your last para. I see you’re a man of culture...!

    For the remainder of the season, are you suggesting that we are the horse or Mr Pinyan...?! 😂


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