Wednesday 19 December 2018

Demonblog's 2018 End of Year Spectacular

Yes friends, it's that time of the year again. The season is over, exciting trade period bombs have dropped, a few familiar names have been given the Tijuana, and we gather to celebrate a season well played. And for once it really was well played, so the celebrations aren't sarcastic.

From the smouldering crater in the MCG caused by the reaction of our fans when we kicked the sealer in the Hawthorn game, it's the 2018 Demonblog End of Year Spectacular. Please rise for the national anthem:

This is the latest season review post ever, mainly because I've just discovered how hard they are without leaning heavily on gags about being a shambles. Now we're... good? I think. Either that September was one hell of a thrilling mirage.

Even the brief mid-table mediocrity era provided plenty of material, now we've made the last four of the competition and the only point of mockery is a disastrous Preliminary Final performance. If you'd offered me a prelim 12 months ago I'd have leapt on you so vigorously you'd have needed surgery, so you won't find me complaining. Until Round 1 next year when it will be sack everybody and bring back Swooper Northey.

The post was intended to mark a triumphant return for the world famous Demonblog Solid Brown Dancers, but because I've deleted the original files and can't be arsed redoing the video you'll have to use your imagination to enjoy their rendition of Melbourne, Melbourne:

Farewell the finals drought
Hello prelim blow out
Better than ninth

Joel Selwood has a sook
BT spoke gobbledygook
Gee god boy wow

Melbourne Melbourne
Winning six games in a row
Jesse’s off to shout heave ho
Ho ho ho ho ho hey

Melbourne Melbourne
Beating Carlton until dead
Quarter time man dropped on head
Ho ho ho ho ho hey

Melbourne Melbourne
Blew the Gold Coast Suns to bits
Jack Watts says he loves the tits
Ho ho ho ho ho

Melbourne Melbourne
Dean Kent kicked a magic goal
Then we sent him to a hole
Ho ho ho ho ho

Goodwin hit the jackpot
After we whinged a lot
On the internet

Lever could play a bit
Shame his knee went to shit
Atop a car park

Melbourne Melbourne
Finally beating North at last
Max's year was unsurpassed
Ho ho ho ho ho

Melbourne Melbourne
Everything went wrong in Perth
Daisy Pearce is giving birth
Ho ho ho ho ho

Melbourne Melbourne
Brownlow bronze for comeback Gus
Viney's foot is pretty suss
Ho ho ho ho ho

Melbourne Melbourne
Bayley Fritsch played everywhere
Lewis has synthetic hair
Ho ho ho ho ho

Melbourne Melbourne
It's easier to do satire
When your team's completely dire
Ho ho ho ho ho hey!

... and if you thought that was low quality content you'll love the rest of this post.

Paul Prymke Plate for Pre-Season Performance

How long ago pre-season feels now, when wobbling to an unconvincing win over North in front of 1500 Tasmanians seemed like a major achievement. To be fair, in early 2018 beating North under any conditions was an event. Who'd have thought then that we'd end the season with a memorable finals run? I still didn't think that after Round 20.

After North came a win over St Kilda and that was it. No votes were awarded for AFLX because it was an ill-conceived idea, poorly executed for the enjoyment of dickheads. Bad news for Jake Melksham, who proved himself to be the greatest athlete in the history of that sport. Which is like being the most successful sailor on the Titanic.

Based on the two games that counted, it's congratulations to confirmed superstar Gawn and pending superstar Petracca for etching their name onto the most eclectic leaderboard in the business. I'd love to go back and do retrospective votes for 2005-2007 (especially because Chris Johnson once got five in a NAB Cup game), but the absence of votes in the low-effort first season of this page and the incomplete set of reports after that make it difficult without relying on bullshit newspaper reports.

7 - Max Gawn, Christian Petracca
5 - Alex Neal-Bullen
4 - James Harmes
3 - Clayton Oliver
2 - Jesse Hogan
1 - Bayley Fritsch, Dom Tyson

Honour Roll
2008 - Aaron Davey
2009 - Cameron Bruce
2010 - Brad Green
2011 - Colin Sylvia
2012 - Nathan Jones
2013 - Nathan Jones (2)
2014 - Jeremy Howe
2015 - Heritier Lumumba
2016 - Jack Watts
2017 - Jesse Hogan, Jayden Hunt and Clayton Oliver
2018 - Max Gawn and Christian Petracca

Jeff Hilton Rising Star Medal

When you think of unexpected positional changes by Melbourne players you think of Clint Bizzell turning into a defender, Tom McDonald becoming a forward and James McDonald becoming unemployed. Other than the still contentious forced retirement of Junior, none of these were as high-risk as a mid-good season conversion of a first year VFL forward into a wingman and running defender.

It worked a treat, until we chucked him for the prelim on the grounds that he was tired only for the rest of the team to play like they were under heavy sedation anyway.

Bayley started favourite for this award so it was hardly a surprising result, he was expected to win as a forward and the good news that he would have anyway. There was a school of thought that held he played enough in defence to qualify for the Seecamp, but in the most bespoke piece of analysis in the history of the game Champion Data confirmed that he was only officially a backman for four games.

The man for all seasons took advantage of the smallest field of contenders for years to win the equivalent of a 6-0, 6-0 in tennis. He became the first favourite to win since Jack Grimes in 2009 - and look how well things turned out for him. It's also important that he got a decent number of votes so even if the award is uncontested it retains its legitimacy.

16 - Bayley Fritsch
0 - Corey Maynard, Charlie Spargo
DNQ - Oskar Baker, Lachlan Filipovic, Dion Johnstone, Declan Keilty, Pat McKenna

Honour Roll
2005 - No players eligible.
2006 - Matthew Bate
2007 - Michael Newton
2008 - Cale Morton
2009 - Jack Grimes ($4 fav)
2010 - [REVOKED] ($5)
2011 - Jeremy Howe ($30)
2012 - Tom McDonald ($8)
2013 - Jack Viney ($5)
2014 - Jay Kennedy-Harris ($15)
2015 - Jesse Hogan ($4.50)
2016 - Jayden Hunt ($50) and Christian Petracca ($10)
2017 - Mitch Hannan ($15)
2018 - Bayley Fritsch ($4.50 fav)

Demonbracket VII

If Demonbrackets were Wrestlemanias this would have been the one where Hulk Hogan pinned villainous Iraqi sympathiser Sgt. Slaughter. In this case it was left to Nifty Neville Jetta to play the role of wholesome babyface, throwing back to the early glory days for defenders in this competition by defeating Clayton Oliver in a more Wrestlemania VI-esque battle of good guys.

I've gone cold on the proposed format review for next year and will once again be presenting a straight knockout tournament. The only concession to spectacle is that rather than blindly following the tournament draw daily matches will be hand-picked to ensure a balance of attractive clashes and probable massacres.

Honour Roll
2012 - James Frawley d. Nathan Jones
2013 - Tom McDonald d. Mitch Clark
2014 - Nathan Jones d. Jack Watts
2015 - Nathan Jones d. Dom Tyson
2016 - Jack Viney d. Nathan Jones
2017 - Max Gawn d. Jack Viney
2018 - Neville Jetta d. Clayton Oliver 

2018 seeds
No change to seeding policy, defending champion opens the batting followed by the top seven in the best and fairest. Clear your calendar for Day 1 action on Monday 28 January 2019.

1. Neville Jetta
2. Max Gawn
3. Clayton Oliver
4. James Harmes
5. Nathan Jones
6. Tom McDonald
7. Angus Brayshaw
8. Jake Melksham

Fond farewells and assorted goodbyes

Harley Balic
We hardly knew ye. Kicked six in a VFL game to make people sit up and go "hello!", until we realised that the goals came against a bloody awful side and he realised he wasn't having any fun playing professional footy. Good on him for putting his hand up and getting the necessary help. We wish him well for the future.

Tom Bugg
Shamefully overlooked in the original draft of this post, the master of Buggery delivered some of the most memorable moments of the last four years. He wore a strange 60s jacket after playing in a win on debut, shhhed the Richmond cheersquad, pushed Jack Riewoldt over while injured, asked "you ready?" alongside Jack Redvers Watts, punched a bloke in the chops and kicked four in our drought breaking victory over North. Was a reasonable soldier in his day, but not the sort of player who's going anywhere in a finals team. So he's done the opposite and gone to Carlton.

Lachlan Filipovic
A very sour goodbye to all the references to Croatian head-kicking sensation Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic that were going to wheeled out during his career. And because now I'll never get another opportunity, here's the original recipe's surprisingly poptastic ring entrance that our one never got to enter the MCG to.

The Great Queen's Birthday Free Kick
At last we're not completely skint (for now anyway) and don't need the guaranteed home game to keep us afloat. That's a good thing. I always unrealistically fantasised about turning on the Pies and kicking them out first but that was never going to happen. Know your role and all that.

For all the put-on rivalry with Collingwood I'm not going to quibble about this, we've had nearly 20 years of charity from them so about time we stood on our own feet. The only complaint is that we'll have the home Anzac Eve game in the same year as our home Queen's Birthday game, meaning the CFO will want to stuff a shitload of money down the back of the couch in the 'on' years just in case we run short in the other. 

Jesse Hogan
The main event of departure season was the day we'd feared for years, and when it finally happened nobody seemed all that concerned. In fact you got the hint that the club were giving it the same "you don't have to leave but what about we drive you to the airport?" treatment Watts got last year. The assumption is Weideman will go supernova and McSizzle can't be stopped even if the focus goes on him in Hogan's absence. I'm keen to sign up, because the alternative is a Roos Year 1 scenario where the defence is solid but we make kicking goals look like landing a man on the moon.

The first time we play Freo you're entitled to act however you wish, but there will be no Carnival of Hate redux from me. Jesse did his time in the asylum, and I hope he does very well at Freo while they do very poorly.

Peter Jackson
The greatest bald head ever returned an air of quiet dignity to the CEO's office after a period of David Brent-esque self parody. He presided over the Herculean task of dragging us back from beyond the brink of irrelevance to a respectable footballing side and a mid-range financial power and did it without ever looking publicly stressed. Godspeed you wonderful, shiny bonced man.

Dion Johnstone
Started as a forward, and looked like he was on the verge of great things when named an emergency in 2017. Then we found out that was only because a bunch of other players had been suspended for illicitly getting on the piss. He never went close again and was converted into a defender in a last ditch attempt to save his career. For every Tom McBizzell style winning switcheroo there's a Troy Davis or Tom Gillies who is dragged down the other end to no avail. Took a shortcut to his released by belting somebody in the VFL Prelim, yet still survived for a week longer than all the other delistees. Maybe he just refused to answer the phone?

Dean Kent
At least we'll always have Perth Stadium. The clutch goal that gave us finals life was practically his last act as a Demon, injured early the next week and subsequently excluded from our bonkers finals run. By all accounts we were comfortable in letting him go, and for some reason St Kilda think they're going to make him a first string midfielder. Everyone's a winner, he'll get paid handsomely for three years to try something new and we don't give a continental if the Saints blow their dough. Pick 65 later formed part of the trade to Fremantle for Hogan, allowing him a partial stake in Steven May's hopefully amazing career with us.

Mitch King
A bad season to be a developing ruckman, and sincere apologies that I never did work out which one was Mitch King and which one was Max King before both were dismissed.

Cameron Pedersen
This one makes me sad. Has there ever been somebody who went from maligned to beloved via about 29 different stints in the VFL? It feels cruel he's been reduced to playing at Phillip Island (who must either be nicknamed the Penguins or shut down) when he'd be a perfectly good backup option for our list, much less one of the down on their luck shitbox teams who need mature bodies.

They've helped us prop up the bottom line for years, now hopefully the moment we sign them over to new owners they malfunction like an American voting machine and have to be written off as a bad investment. If you're mourning the loss of these glorified Sony Playstations why not just send me a hundred dollars and a number, and if you're lucky and pick the same number I'm thinking of I'll TREBLE your investment. We've sold Leighoak but are apparently keeping the Bentleigh Club without pokies, which seems like a fair gamble on the popularity of the joint as a wedding venue. 

Dom Tyson
Delightful fluffy hair, a world record pace for being caught holding the ball, and competent midfield play that looked a lot better when we didn't have any other good mids. They say a rising tide lifts all boats, but in Dom's case our midfield going from village standard to arguably the best in the competition left him surplus to requirements.

Harmes' astronomical emergence was the final blow, but it's undeniable that the best Tyson looked all year was when Viney was out so he should have gone to Carlton or Gold Coast and flourished while all around him was covered in shit. Instead he's gone to North and nobody can work out why. We wish him well.

Bernie Vince
The only player anywhere near their prime who chose to join us when we were out on our feet and begging for scraps. Forget what happened this season when he was shot and remember the very good times in very bad teams before that. I've delayed this post so long that he's already come back in some sort of part time coaching/mentoring role. There's never been a better time to bring back this tweet in tribute:

AFLW season in review

Round 1 vs Greater Western Sydney

Where I enacted a good old fashioned media ban, watched on tape the next day and saw us require a grandstand comeback in the last quarter to win. In a competition where you could only stand to lose one game and make the Grand Final (so we thought anyway) this was nearly curtains at the first hurdle, but a win was still one step ahead of what we'd done against them the year before.

Round 2 vs Adelaide

The week the AFL reacted to a perceived lack of razzle dazzle footy in the opening round by pissing about with the rules like madmen. This might have been a good thing for us, because after falling over the line as hot favourites in the opening week we tonked the defending premiers here. Unbeaten after two games and all was well with the world.

Round 3 vs Fremantle

Whether men's football, women's football or intergalactic alien football there has rarely ever been a more ridiculous defeat than this. We kept them without a single inside 50 in the first quarter, but only converted one of six scoring shots at the other end and gave them a second life. They gratefully accepted our gift and roared back with a vengeance to win, leaving us with minimal room for error in the last four games.

Round 4 vs Collingwood

A Perth to Alice Springs road trip seemed like rude scheduling, until you remembered that it was our choice to flog the game to the Northern Territory as part of the sponsorship deal that keeps us in the black. As an advertisement for games in the Alice the pulverisation of Adelaide's men was much better, with the women dying in the arse against mediocre opposition in the heat. This time it wasn't even close, with Special K spokeswoman Mo Hope winning the first female Kingsley nomination shortly before legging it from the Pies to play elsewhere. At 2-2 we were now basically rooted.

Round 5 vs Brisbane Lions

Our AFLW squad took the mantra "life wasn't mean to be easy" far too seriously, barely staying afloat against the Lions with the season on the line. In the dying seconds, inside Brisbane's 50 with a goal the difference we totally ran one out of bounds on the full deliberately which was paid as a boundary throw-in. I was less than gracious in victory towards an incredulous Lion...
... which nearly backfired when Brisbane made the Grand Final. But they lost, so double sucked in.

Round 6 vs Carlton

Carlton's women were as crap as their men. When the saving grace of a club is the VFL side finishing 12th you know you're in trouble. It's been nearly 20 years since teams had the chance to suck in three different grades, but you can be certain that if anyone put together an equally disappointing campaign in the days of the Under 19s it would have been us.

With a near certain victory here we looked towards an unofficial elimination final against the Bulldogs a week later, with the backup option of falling in on percentage in front of Brisbane if we won by a landslide here. The Blues had already handed Footscray our record for the largest AFLW win a few weeks earlier, and when we were 6.3 to 0.1 in front at quarter time here it looked like the mother of all percentage boosters was on the way. Then it wasn't, kicking one less goal for the rest of the game and losing Mel Hickey (for good as it turns out) with a knee injury.

Round 7 vs Footscray

Even with a 4-2 record there was a Grand Final lifeline to be had by beating the Dogs on their own ground. A win wasn't out of the question after toppling them at home in 2017, but while we gave winning a fair old crack the natural weight of part of the Melbourne Football Club dragged us under.

Our season quite literally swung on the wind, with a boundary throw-in dropping short because of the breeze and allowing the Dogs to sweep forward for the winner. It was the third consecutive season played by a team called Melbourne where we narrowly missed the finals and I was jack of it. Thank god then, for the first time in years, for the men. 

Daisy Pearce Medal for Women's Player of the Year

That's right, if you missed our award winning AFLW coverage (which to be fair was mostly complaining about ad hoc rule changes and Melbourne narrowly missing the Grand Final) we took the unprecedented step of renaming an award after a serving player. Who knew she'd decline to challenge for her own title in 2019 due to OUT: Pearce (Up The Duff). That's a team change you've never seen before.

In her last tilt at the title for now, Daisy finished third behind a thrilling Karen Paxman vs Elise O'Dea dual. The ever reliable Paxman won, and betting agencies across the country are suggesting they'll be facing off for top spot again next year.

20 - Karen Paxman
19 - Elise O'Dea
16 - Daisy Pearce
10 - Tegan Cunningham
6 - Katherine Smith
5 - Richelle Cranston, Shelley Scott
4 - Laura Duryea, Bianca Jakobsson, Lauren Pearce
3 - Mel Hickey, Brooke Patterson
2 - Meg Downie, Lily Mithen
1 - Harriet Cordner, Erin Hoare

Honour Roll
2017 - Daisy Pearce
2018 - Karen Paxman

2018 Year in Review Part 1


My attempt at a boycott of this unholy slurry lasted until I heard we were in the final. In case we never win anything meaningful I caved, tuning in to see us lift a trophy that looked like it was from a primary school arts and crafts fair. It was the most pointless exercise of all time, and next year will be played with all-star teams instead of real clubs as it should have right from the start. If any of our stars so much as cramp there will be murder.

JLT Community Series game 1 vs North Melbourne

We started another year of nobody knowing what JLT is by beating North in a real game - or as close as you get to it with supergoals - for the first time in over a decade.  Nobody turned up to a suburban ground in Hobart to see it but television coverage confirmed it really happened.

Now we'd toppled our long time nemesis in an AFLX wankfest and a pre-season game so the only frontier left to cross was the one that mattered.

JLT Community Series game 2 vs St Kilda

St Kilda were supposed to be in the same up elevator as us, so even in a practice game beating them made things start to seem real. Like the North game we needlessly left the door open to a comeback instead of obliterating them. We withstood a comeback, and when the Reverse Stranglewank failed we ran away with it in the last quarter. As I'd declined the three hour roundtrip to Casey Fields I turned my TV off and went to bed.

Round 1 vs Geelong

We'd keep finding inventive ways to lose during the season, but this hurt even more than the usual defeats because we had the game in our own hands with 30 seconds to play. You know the story by now, after recovering from a horror first half where the defence look like they'd just met Gawn marked 25 metres out directly in front with a shot to win it. He missed, the soon to disappear from the face of the earth Jayden Hunt had an underrated ping at a 70 metre torp from the boundary line after the siren and we were back to our old habit of losing in Round 1. 

Round 2 vs Brisbane

Well done to those who spotted the reference to Milton Berle's horsecock in the title, and more importantly to Melbourne for narrowly toppling Brisbane on their own ground. It was not without some nervous moments, with the Lions charging back from a mile down to make it all too interesting for my liking. In a higher stakes repeat of the St Kilda pre-season game we burst back to win easily, which was much appreciated considering I'd threatened to write the season off if we didn't start 2-1.

Round 3 vs North Melbourne

The trifecta of wins over North was complete, and we'd achieved the crucial two wins against ordinary teams that allowed me to buy in to the season. I'd somewhat cash out again over the next two weeks, but all's well that ends well. Victory was achieved in the face of a first half by Billy Hartung that reminded seasoned watchers of Robert Flower until he kicked the ball. It would be Billy's finest moment before he was dropped and subsequently delisted, seeing our first nominee of the season to the Kingsley Klub.

There's no telling if the rest of the season would have gone the same if we'd lost here (e.g. would we have still cocked it up so spectacularly against St Kilda?) but on a raw viewing of the numbers it represented the difference between the win in Perth sealing our spot and another week of tension waiting to see if we'd beat GWS. More importantly, Josh Wagner's heat map drew a cock and balls:

Round 4 vs Hawthorn

Hello top eight contenders, goodbye dignity. In the rain we played a searing five goal first quarter,  before Al Clarkson decided he'd have none of that rubbish and didn't allow another until we were 10 goals down in the last quarter. And that was the only one we got in the last three quarters. What a day to opt for doing something more important and watch on delay from home.

Round 5 vs Richmond
A memorable night for so many reasons, including a Richmond cheersquad member disgracing the memory of the Anzacs by wearing a comedy jacket to the pre-match tribute, and the bloke necking himself during Hogan's Heroes. There was also a footy game, and we barely participated in it. One game in the hole after five was about where I expected us to be at the start of the year but it was the struggle to score that made many of us get prematurely morose and ironically start acting like bloodthirsty pre-flag Tigers fans. Imagine knowing then we'd end up as the highest scoring team in the competition.

Round 6 vs Essendon
Randy Salvage

For the second year in a row our 18 hours of extra rest after the Anzac games proved decisive as the Bombers went to bits after half time. Until then Simon Goodwin was in all sorts of trouble from 'the internet', for the zero that matters. Even I was starting to get nervy and as 2012 to the third quarter of Round 1 2013 showed I'm usually too generous on coaches. Then Gawn laughed in the face of a numpty after kicking a goal and the Bombers stacked it, prompting us to straighten up, fly right and start giving teams what for.

Round 7 vs St Kilda
Keep a lid on things

In years gone by back-to-back trips to Docklands would have been cause to put your head in the oven, but now we were a better team at Fortress Shithole than on the MCG so another game there was welcomed like an old friend. Sure you still risked being trampled leaving the place, but now you'd die happy instead of cursing the club under your breath. By now we knew St Kilda were crap, but that didn't affect our joy at recovering from two weeks of tension with a fortnight of comfortable wins. The qualification mark for a comfortable win was about to be redefined...

Round 8 vs Gold Coast
Slip, slap, slop

The two wins before were most welcome, but this was truly the opening ceremony to probably the best three mid-season weeks of my life. Who'd have thought that of a literally unprecedented three week orgy of violence, venom and velocity a 69 point win against the Suns would be the least brutal.

In front of a palty 6060 people at the Gabba, while the Suns' ground had a Commonwealth Games long jump pit on it, we evoked happy memories of that first stomping of them on the same ground. Except that day we won by 90 and went home unhappy, while this 21 point 'worse' margin was far more memorable. It could have been more considering we had the equal more inside 50s ever in a game. Even 186 had less, but to be fair Geelong didn't need them when they kicked a goal on every entry.

Round 9 vs Carlton
How to make friends and eviscerate people

On the joyous occasion of celebrities getting hitched, our present to the Commonwealth of Nations was the 100 point win I'd coveted ever since the 1993 beheading of Richmond. Even that was a throwaway end of season game when we were well out of the finals race, this was a statement of intent that we'd graduated from errand boys to assassins. I had some sympathy with the Blues in the last quarter, having watched sides capitulate in similar fashion many times. Bad luck somebody had to be on the end of a kicking eventually.

By the end there was almost as much tension in keeping the margin over the ton than there would have been if we were up by a goal. Now the final frontier (non-premiership department) is somebody kicking 10.

Round 10 vs Adelaide
Alice Wonderland

We'd had it so good for a fortnight that I thought it would absolutely come to a screaming halt here. The Crows were not in the same shape as when they'd made the Grand Final, but were still a cut above the flotsam and jetsam we'd thrashed over the previous three weeks so as a coping mechanism I expected the worst. Next thing we'd kicked 12 first half goals, were up by 48 and on the way to a fifth consecutive win.

At three quarter time an understandably upset Don Pyke channelled his rage into silent patrolling of the huddle and eyeballing of players. They responded by staring back thinking "aren't you the tit who kidnapped us in a bus?" Concerned that he'd be driving them back to South Australia they briefly rallied at the start of the last term, before deciding it was all too hard again shortly after and crumbling to the largest defeat any team has ever had against us outside of the Melbourne metropolitan area.

Round 11 vs Footscray
Six won, and tons for fun

Sugarhill Gang fans rejoiced over the post title, while people who hate playing games in the Northern Territory were ready to riot when we went three goals behind in the opening minutes. Our near record streak of winning quarters was halted at 16, but from there Bulldogs packed up and let us do whatever we wanted. The not long for this world McSizzle/Hulkamania forward combination lobbed through nine, the winning streak extended to Milton Berle-esque length, and to remind us that we were Melbourne fans and could never truly be happy Jake Lever did his knee.

Round 12 vs Collingwood
On the slide

In what was all of a sudden a heavyweight clash against resurgent opposition our coach tempted fate by going down the charity slide dressed as a downhill skier. Against our first finals contender opposition in seven weeks we were soon exposed. In an outcome that would have paid 2000-1 a couple of years earlier, Tom McDonald and Mason Cox kicked 11 between them but the American's five were worth far more because his teammates joined in.

Aaron Davey Medal for Goal of the Year

Round 1 - Alex Neal-Bullen
Round 2 - Jeff Garlett
Round 3 - Jeff Garlett (2)
Round 4 - Jesse Hogan
Round 5 - Jake Melksham
Round 6 - Max Gawn
Round 7 - Dom Tyson
Round 8 - Max Gawn (2)
Round 9 - Jake Melksham (2)
Round 10 - Christian Petracca
Round 11 - Jesse Hogan (2)
Round 12 - Mitch Hannan
Round 14 - Tom McDonald
Round 15 - Christian Petracca
Round 16 - Jake Melksham (3)
Round 17 - Christian Petracca (2)
Round 18 - Charlie Spargo
Round 19 - Jake Melksham
Round 20 - Charlie Spargo (2)
Round 21 - Cameron Pedersen
Round 22 - Dean Kent
Round 23 - Christian Petracca (3)
Elimination Final - Mitch Hannan
Semi Final - Christian Petracca (4)
Preliminary Final - Mitch Hannan (2)

... and your winner by popular acclaim - with apologies to the late Dean Kent in Perth - is Mitch Hannan sealing the Elimination Final with one of those heart in mouth running goals that ends in an eruption of ecstasy a'la Watts on Queens Birthday 2017. But better.
In the all-time leaderboard, Garlett now has 21 nominations and Petracca 10.

Honour Roll
2014 - Christian Salem
2015 - Nathan Jones
2016 - Jack Watts
2017 - Tom McDonald

2018 - Mitch Hannan

Tweets of the Year

If you're a player social media is a best avoided sewer, but I'd have had an even shitter time in the dark days if it wasn't for the people of Demon Twitter. Here's some of their finest work, headlined by this mid-preliminary final character assassination:
Accurate pre-season commentary that seemed more ludicrous than the bottom right old lady's jumper when we were struggling early in the season
Thoughtful Nathan Jones pondered the meaning of life while Fritsch and Harmes pissfarted around
A return to traditional values for the first time since Aidan Riley was on the list.
#ruleschat with Maximum - the tweet that saved us from the giant goalsquare
If you take the view that this was a legitimate account and not something doing a gimmick I'd like to meet them. Went quiet from July until dropping one last bomb after the Prelim
This perfect summation of the shared experience of climbing out of the sewer

And remember, if your account is locked it's not that I'm being rude and refusing to respond, I just can't see what you're saying. 

Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year

The good news for Maximum is that he could have retired disinterested after one vote and still clung to a perilous victory due to nobody else even going close to the 10 hitout per game qualifying mark. Next closest was Tim Smith at 4.25 per game, and he didn't get any votes either.

The bad news for Max's campaign for a sixth title in 2019 is that the aggressively bald Braydon Preuss surely hasn't joined us to test his mettle on a freezing Casey Fields so there might be genuine theatre in this award for the first time since the Fitzpatrick Debacle. 

51 - Max Gawn
DNQ - Lachlan Filipovic, Mitch King, Tom McDonald, Cameron Pedersen, Sam Weideman, Any other player

Honour Roll
2005 - Jeff White
2006 - Jeff White (2)
2007 - Jeff White (3)
2008 - Paul Johnson
2009 - Mark Jamar ($3)
2010 - Mark Jamar (2) ($1.50 fav)
2011 - Stefan Martin ($30)
2012 - Stefan Martin (2) ($12)
2013 - Jack Fitzpatrick ($50) and Max Gawn ($45)
2014 - Mark Jamar (3) ($5)
2015 - Max Gawn (2) ($10)
2016 - Max Gawn (3) ($1.80)
2017 - Max Gawn (4) ($1.25 fav)
2018 - Max Gawn (5) ($1.10 fav)

Welcome to my vendetta

Jake Lever's knee
Sam Docherty's has blown out like a faulty truck tyre for the second year in a row, leaving me shitscared of Lever's doing the same. Internet conspiracy theorists and Donald Trump dickheads are already discussing how convenient it is that Adelaide could have benefited from Lever going down and will benefit from Docherty's injury. Don Pyke with an ultrasonic sniper rifle not pictured.

Kade Kolodjashnij
Likely to pose the most spelling trouble for fans since Austin Wonaeamirri, and it's no easier to divine whether he'll deliver on-field. Given that he's had concussion trouble I'll be waiting patiently for the triple clack head knock with Brayshaw and Jetta, but if he can avoid that working purely off the vibe I think this will turn out ok. Has played 78 games, which makes me think of Mark Neeld's quest to get players up to the 80-100 game mark only to get the arse after 33 himself.

Steven May
If this goes badly I'll be inconsolable because I've coveted him for years. So much that I quickly forgave him for his cold blooded murder of Stefan Martin, and genuinely fretted when it seemed he was going to ditch Gold Coast for another Victorian club. No idea what draws me to him but I reserve the right to treat him like a messiah until the first time he unloads some poxy kick in defence and costs us a goal.

Gary Pert
Like Matthew Knights after Kevin Sheedy, David Moyes after Alex Ferguson or Denis Napthine after Jeff Kennett good bloody luck following an icon. He has runs on the board at Collingwood, but ask Heritier Lumumba what it was like leaving that moneybags operation and discovering all the stuff that used to work effortlessly at the old joint is a struggle here. Judging a CEO before he's started is about as wacky as doing articles about who won the draft before anybody's played a game, so let's just remain calm and see how it goes.

Natalie Portman
Probably the first not quite sure what they're watching American ring-in we've had since Don Lane. Later told of her experiences as a celebrity supporter on the Ellen show, providing the first entertaining content that godforsaken program has ever put to air. Feels appropriate to be involved with somebody who starred in V for Vendetta. Now do V for Viney.

Braydon Preuss
We'll either be playing him alongside McSizzle and Weid in the forward line, or he'll ruck more and free Gawn to go and create havoc in the forward line. Otherwise he should have just stayed at North and pushed Todd Goldstein down the stairs. Has kicked 5.6 in eight senior games so at least he's running at an average of more than one shot per game. Not exactly Simon Madden numbers but in Goodwin we trust. Coming from Queensland I don't fancy his chances of making the end of the year if we leave him at frozen Casey Fields all winter.

I hate the resulting draw with a passion, but welcome to the world of being the 4th best team in the competition. Not sure how I'm going to take to being the hunted rather than the hunter but am certainly not complaining at the chance to give it a crack. We've got a better team than last season, but if we crack through the good team draw to finish top four we'll win the bloody competition. Early prediction is a top four near miss again but I am here to be surprised.

All the draftees
With our first pick not until well beyond the point of serious draft analysis I have no idea who any of them are, what they do, and whether they project to be good, bad or otherwise. It certainly looks like we've gone small, which certainly makes sense in defence but I could have done with parking another forward of the future in the VFL just in case. Or we could have kept Pedersen.

Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year

In contrast to the Stynes, this award was low-scoring but ultra-competitive and could have gone almost anywhere in the last few weeks. Ultimately Michael Hibberd's bid to become the first repeat winner since the 2010-2012 Frawley three-peat fell just short and Christian Salem became the fifth first-time winner in a row. Now that we've chucked Tyson it's entirely up to him to win us the Josh Kelly related trade, and this was a good start.

Gambling fanatics will note this is also the fifth consecutive player to win at double figure odds. Put your house on Declan Keilty in 2019. Then find somewhere else to live.

10 - Christian Salem
9 - Michael Hibberd
8 - Jordan Lewis
7 - Neville Jetta
4 - Oscar McDonald
3 - Jake Lever
2 - Sam Frost, Joel Smith
1 - Cameron Pedersen
0 - Jayden Hunt, Declan Keilty, Bernie Vince, Josh Wagner
DQ - Bayley Fritsch

Honour Roll
2005 - Nathan Carroll and Ryan Ferguson
2006 - Jared Rivers
2007 - Paul Wheatley
2008 - Matthew Whelan
2009 - James Frawley ($22)
2010 - James Frawley (2) ($3.50)
2011 - James Frawley (3) ($4)
2012 - Jack Grimes ($7)
2013 - James Frawley (4) ($2.80)
2014 - Lynden Dunn ($25)
2015 - Tom McDonald ($14)
2016 - Neville Jetta ($13)
2017 - Michael Hibberd ($16)
2018 - Christian Salem ($20)

2018 Year in Review Part Two

Round 14 vs Port Adelaide
Friday night and I just love complaining

The half of the year where we finally brought home the bacon had an inauspicious start. There was a period in the first quarter where it looked like we were going to march into Adelaide, extract  four points by force and return across the border leaving a trail of destruction behind us, before the league's scoring juggernaut clammed up. We only kicked nine goals, a 20 point lead was squandered, and our wobbles started to set off seismic detectors across the eastern seaboard.

As long as we didn't do anything stupid like lose to St Kilda...

Round 15 vs St Kilda
The welcome to my nightmare game

Much like the Hawthorn loss I can only imagine my reaction if I'd left the house to watch this. Especially if I'd been a flat out shithouse human and rearranged my daughter's birthday party to get there. I opted not to be the subject of future psychiatrist sessions, watched on tape delay and stormed out of the room in frustration when they went four goals up only to check the score and discover we nearly won. That would have been embarrassing. In hindsight consider it the loss we had to have.

Round 16 vs Fremantle
Home sweat home

After stacking into the wall against one team of also rans I can't tell you how little a Darwin game against Sex Chat Roscoe and the Heave Ho Squad appealed. If we'd lost the heroics of Alice Springs would have been forgotten while people lined up a no confidence motion in the entire administration. Fortunately just when things were starting to look dodgy the Dockers only offered token resistance. We went on our merry way racking up a ridiculous number of behinds, 5.15 at the half, and 13.24 by the end of a win that was comfortable but in no way suggested a barnstorming run to the final four was on the cards.

Round 17 vs Footscray
Climb the ladder, make yourself famous

Another outing where we staggered, wobbled, went around in circles and mixed our metaphors for a bit before deploying the afterburners and ripping the opposition's knackers off. Even after winning in Darwin there were still people waiting with baseball bats if the delayed effects of the humidity hit us here. At half time when we were only three points ahead they looked like this...

... before a masterclass of rucking by Gawn put both the naysayers and the Bulldogs on their arse. The NT was off the hook as Max fed his midfielders like he was throwing food to the starving. It rained hitouts as Max and the Midfielders combined for eight thrilling goals in 12 erotic minutes. Another four to one in the last quarter saw us win running away, and all it lacked was Peter Jackson running around the ground with a novelty cheque showing how much we'd made for playing in Darwin.

Round 18 vs Geelong
Respect the clock and tame the punt

Just when you thought everything was back on track along came an old fashioned MFC disaster. Not much of one by Kardinia Park standards, but try telling me that when Zac Tuohy's goal went through and I forcefully sunk the slipper into an innocent fence. The amount of energy I was expending on running ladder predictors and scenarios to get us into the eight at this point was ridiculous, adding an extra 'losing an eight pointer' level of agony onto the already traumatic nature of this defeat. After a nervy few weeks the ladder shook out so that we weren't in direct competition with the Cats for a spot so this was ultimately worse for our top four chances than top eight.

Round 19 vs Adelaide
Attempting reentry

What made the Geelong fiasco even worse was the prospect of having to travel again the next week. The Adelaide Oval holds nowhere near the same fears for us that Football Park did after the Port loss it still felt like a great place to dig a hole and bury our premiership hopes. It was nearly a burial at sea, as the Crows came at us with all guns blazing in a sodden last quarter. Much love to Eddie Betts for missing from the square in the dying minutes and allowing us to survive. It was a maintenance win, not pushing us much further towards September but preventing what might have been a fatal dip to 10th.

AFLX premiership coach Stone Cold Craig Jennings shot to internet superstardom when he treated the result with the same level of excitement as collecting your dry cleaning, with added contempt for being smacked about the head.
Round 20 vs Gold Coast

The Suns were in an even worse state than the last time we'd thrashed them, but had somehow recently beaten Sydney in a result so unusual even Pakistani cricketers would have said "blimey!" We had to be on guard against something equally bizarre happening but need not have worried, their only tall forward was injured in the first 30 seconds, and we registered our second biggest quarter in history. Ever. Against anyone. Since 1897.

When the lead hit 75 in the middle of the second quarter our record 141 point win against Hawthorn in 1926 was in grave danger. To the delight of nobody the Suns demonstrated some self-respect and dug in, only losing the rest of the game by 21. The margin narrowly tipped over the century late, before we missed another chance at it after the siren. Fine time for teams to stop kicking goals after the bell.

Round 21 vs Sydney
Unsafe at any speed

Victory here would all but seal our spot in the finals with two games to play, allowing a relatively stress free trip to Perth the next week. And it all looked so good at the start, before we reverted to Old Melbourne and threw away the game in 20 minutes of pressure-free madness. Once Sydney lost more troops than the first 25 minutes of Saving Private Ryan we had the chance to launch a rattling comeback but got within touching distance and clammed up again. Pedersen ended his Melbourne career setting up Mark of the Year with a shit kick, Hogan ended his with a damaged foot, and our finals hopes now hung on by a thread. 

Round 22 vs West Coast
You're going home in a cosmic ambience

Shame we'll never be able to remember this without also thinking about the Prelim, because before the legacy of Perth Stadium 2018 games was ruined it ranked as one of the most enjoyable victories ever. Still worth giving some thought to, especially how we didn't go to pieces when they hit the lead. At that point I was so nervous it was like somebody on real solid gear who thinks they're hovering outside their body.

The idea of choking our way out of the eight against the Giants the following week terrified me. Thank god then for Dean Kent, who in practically his last act before being shuffled out the door sank an ice cold set shot. That got us back in front, before a later premiership winning defender fell over and let Melksham goal unchallenged from the square to confirm it. I did a victory lap around the house, Chris J**d acted like a joyless wanker about regulation on-field celebrations and at last you could receive a finals brochure in the mail without kicking the postman.

Round 23 vs Greater Western Sydney
The Great Australian Free Hit

When you reach the last round playing simply for the right to host a home final then you know something has gone right. It was either back to the MCG for a festival of frenzy amongst the faithful, or filling the Giants' dinky stadium with our fans anyway. We avoided travel once, karmically rolling ourselves into going to Perth later, by winning in a canter. It didn't look like the Giants had their hearts in it, and we were pleased to take advantage in a warm-up carnival atmosphere for the chaotic scenes at our next game. Pride restored, time to go for the jackpot.

Elimination Final vs Geelong
Having expended so much psychic energy just to get in, it was a bit rude to play a team who'd already beaten us twice in heartbreaking circumstances. But this surprisingly quite good version of Melbourne accepted the challenge to a degree science is unable to properly measure.

60,000 odd diehard Melburnians, bandwagon jumpers and carpetbaggers who'd risen above Ticketek's ineptitude to get in went off their nut, and the remainder were stunned into silence by a blockbusting first quarter that left us five goals up. With mouths agape across the ground the inevitable response came on the counter-attack in another quarter where we comprehensively outplayed them.

After a weird third quarter where each side only kicked one goal we turned it on again in the last to win easily. As a bonus we not only withstood their comeback, but Joel Selwood was driven insane by the pressure and was offered free life coaching advice by Sam Frost.
Semi Final vs Hawthorn

After one life-affirming evening of Demon fans tripping off their tits, we arrived the following Friday night knowing that the only two places to go were Perth or out. I vowed to go west if we won, secretly not expecting to have to go through with it. In a reverse of the previous game we were the ones who kicked goals against the run of play in the second quarter, before a burst at the end of the third quarter set up what should have been an unassailable lead.

As payback for Channel 7 showing old ladies crying in joy at the last change Hawthorn kicked the first three goals of the last quarter to leave things looking very ropey indeed. Enter Jake Melksham, with a goal so great that serial shit chatter Brian Taylor of all people unloaded what may be my favourite commentary moment of all time.

Preliminary Final vs West Coast

It cost me about $1000 to get there, I walked the long way to the stadium because Google Maps didn't know there was a bridge over the river, we were pummelled from the opening bounce and my flight home was delayed but I regret nothing. If I'd chickened out and we'd won at least I've had had a Grand Final to look forward to, but even with the grisly circumstances of our demise I'd have felt like a poltroon not being there. 

Even if victory was unlikely (though I didn't think it was zero goals in the first half unlikely) the wave of the first two weeks needed to be ridden to its ultimate conclusion - which turned out to be some jagged as fuck rocks. Afterwards I met a drunk man in charge of children and watched 10 overs of domestic cricket at the WACA, before travelling home in misery.

The Still Unnamed Medal for Finals Player of the Year

You'd think more than two months later I'd have come up with a name for this. But no, I'm waiting for us to make another finals series first. Also, it's hard finding anyone sensible to name it after when we've played so few finals - relatively speaking - in the last 50 years. I'm tempted to do a Daisy and just name it after Nathan Jones now in tribute to his bridging of the 2007-2018 #fistedforever gap but won't tempt fate. Here's hoping we're announcing a name next year and not 2032.

10 - Jack Viney
9 - James Harmes
6 - Tom McDonald
5 - Michael Hibberd, Sam Weideman
4 - Clayton Oliver
3 - Angus Brayshaw 
1 - Neville Jetta, Christian Petracca

What we can do is use the votes of the past to declare a retrospective winner for 2006. I'd love to do 2005 as well, but for reasons still not adequately explained decided to go to work instead of chucking a sickie and watching us get thumped in the Elimination Final.

Honour Roll
2006 - Brock McLean
2018 - Jack Viney

2018 Allen Jakovich Medal for Player of the Year

He looks like the McHamburglar, he dishes off psychic handballs to players out of his field of vision, he's become the second man behind St Nathan Jones to win two Jakovichs. He is possibly the best midfielder we've had since [insert a year that gives away your age].

I'm so surprised to have found a player of such rare quality that I'm continuously waiting for something to go wrong. For now the man who made Mooroopna famous has emerged unscathed, and is well on his way to becoming Demon royalty.

He becomes the second shortest price favourite ever to win, but was arguably better value than Jones' $2 in 2013 when he was the only breathing midfielder.

Congratulations Clayton, and best of luck with your quest to become the second triple winner in Jakovich history.

64 - Clayton Oliver
51 - Max Gawn
36 - James Harmes
29 - Jesse Hogan
26 - Angus Brayshaw
24 - Tom McDonald
18 - Jack Viney (WINNER: As Yet Unnamed Medal for Best Finals Player)
16 - Bayley Fritsch (WINNER: Jeff Hilton Rising Star Medal)
14 - Nathan Jones
13 - Jake Melksham
11 - Christian Petracca
10 - Christian Salem
9 - Michael Hibberd
8 - Jordan Lewis
7 - Neville Jetta
6 - Alex Neal-Bullen
5 - Jeff Garlett, Mitch Hannan, Sam Weideman
4 - Oscar McDonald
3 - Dean Kent, Jake Lever, Dom Tyson
2 - Sam Frost, Joel Smith
1 - Cameron Pedersen

Honour Roll

2005 - Travis Johnstone
2006 - Brock McLean
2007 - Nathan Jones
2008 - Cameron Bruce
2009 - Aaron Davey ($8)
2010 - Brad Green ($4)
2011 - Brent Moloney ($9)
2012 - Nathan Jones (2) ($3.50)
2013 - Nathan Jones (3) ($2)
2014 - Nathan Jones (4) ($3.50)
2015 - Jack Viney ($15)
2016 - Nathan Jones (5) ($8)
2017 - Clayton Oliver ($35)
2018 - Clayton Oliver (2)  ($3.25 fav)

And there you have it, at long last the curtain falls on the 14th season of Demonblog. As you would surely be aware if you've come this far I'm going to miss several games next year due to work commitments.

I'm hoping to be able to sneakily watch everything, but will still be taking up the offers of everyone who has volunteered to do a stint as a guest reporter. It's probably come at the right time, I'm worn out. But not enough to hush up and keep my crackpots opinions to myself.

So, until AFLW season, the pre-season series, and the real stuff we say farewell. Until then why not bury your head in either the 8000 page leviathan Demonwiki or the now not as relevant as it used to be book. I'm out, here's Nathan Jones going off his bald nut: