Sunday 31 March 2019

Let thine eyes with horror stare into that vast perpetual torture-house

If you're short of time, the story of Saturday night is best described by the Kardinia Park sponsor with the slogan A NEW HELL BEGINS. The only minor consolation was not wasting my time going to Geelong and standing in the rain for three hours to see it live.

There's also good news for Tony Abbott, as climate change is off the hook for last week's Preliminary Final hangover. We were no good in the hot afternoon sun, but even worse in the evening rain. I'd like to try again on a mild day in the dry just to be sure, but we may actually be a team for no seasons.

The disappointment of last week was discreetly covered up under the assumption that like 2013, Port Adelaide might be unexpectedly good. Then they instantly put the value of that result into question by barely beating Carlton at home (can't play Melbourne every week...), while our system went into meltdown like it had contracted a computer virus, and season 2019 was thrown into the bay with a cinderblock attached to its ankles. Farewell top 4, 5, 6 and 7. I cling to outside hope of eighth to keep myself getting up in the morning.

Given that we've only made finals 13/48 times since the 22 game season was introduced no surprise that our record after starting 0-2 is putrid. The only successful revival was in 2006, when we just pulled out of an 0-3 hole via a thriller at the SCG (and guess where we might go with an 0-3 record in two weeks?), won 13.5 games and a final. That year was so bonkers that we went on an 11/12 run and sat third mid-year before the wheels fell off again. At this stage of 2019 I'd be comfortable with any script that finishes with "... and a final".

With no competing priorities, I could easily have gone to Charnel House Stadium, but given that we held a 2-1-18 record there during my supporting life the high percentage option was to stay in and be miserable in the security of my own home. I think I've done my time at that ground, being soaked through on that godforsaken terrace as we kicked four goals in 2013, seeing every minute of 111 and 186 point losses, then last year copping a fisting from an opposite direction after the siren. Can't see a scenario in which I'd go there again, and in this case it turned out to be the best footy viewing decision since skiving off in the middle of work to see us take out our post-tanking frustrations on Freo in 2009.

An 80 point margin would suggest your garden variety thrashing, and while it was our worst defeat since Roos' finale on the same ground there were statistical anomalies that will appear in Champion Data trainee textbooks for years to come. As you'd be well aware I love stats, and desire to spend my days working with them, but this is the night where the basic package of footy numbers were dismissed as a fraud.

I'm sure there are advanced measurements that can explain what happened and predict what comes next, but we proved the handful of figures that fans and media obsess over are a spent force. We had less disposals, narrowly fewer contested possessions, and lost the free kick count, but otherwise had more clearances (+6 from the centre, +4 from stoppages), tackles (+3), hitouts (+19), the same number of forward marks, and most outrageously misleading of all in a game we lost by 14 goals - 73 (seventy three, LXXIII, the atomic number of tantalum) inside 50s to 48.

The worst statistics in the game are hitouts and inside 50s, because both are useless without understanding they context they happened in. Hitouts to advantage goes some way to clearing that one up, but inside 50s is still just a lump sum that means bugger all on its own. In our case maybe three were at a leading forward and the other 70 were either passes to the boundary, hit and hope bombs, or balls that limped over the 50 metre line without ever posing a threat. Still, when you beat a previous record low mark by five full goals you know that - as the kids would say - shit is fucked.
That goes to show no matter how good your midfield is, bad things are going to happen when your forward structure doesn't convert and the defenders are still getting about like they're badly traumatised. Both structures were equally as wonky last year too, but contested possession propped us up long enough to launch a four week run of magic that we'll have to accept as a substitute for never winning a flag.

Kicking 25 goals more than anyone else in the competition and flogging a few also rans was tremendous fun, and it helped sweep our wasteful forward play under the rug. Now 17 teams have had a summer to study our brute force methods and come up with the revolutionary counter move of sticking players in front of our forwards and not letting them get the ball. Don't bother picketing against Goodwin, he's not going anywhere for a few years, look to Richmond's pre-premiership example and pile in unmercifully on the assistants in the hope that a refresh might solve everything. Even if, like me, you're not entirely sure what their roles or responsibilities are.

It might help if we played the tall forwards in attack, instead of McSizzle and Weideman roaming up the ground and aiming kicks at Melksham and Petracca. Milkshake has done as well as humanly possible to make something of this madness over the last fortnight, whereas Truck looks like he wants to slash his wrists. Opposition tactics obviously play a big part, but how did we up with Geelong turning our forward line around 180 degrees so the big forwards were delivering to the medium size players? I hate to think what would have happened to Spargo if we'd played him.

In the Sydney game on Friday night there was one of the most sensual forward moves you'll ever see, with a player marking in the middle of the ground and instantly turning to put a pass right on the teet of the forward he knew would be leading down the middle of the 50. For what gets me going it was far more attractive than the goal of the year mystery snag Franklin kicked from the boundary line minutes earlier. We can do this. We did it several times last year, and now that everyone's onto our bulldozer approach we'll have to try it again. What happened to the noble art of chipping it around a few times to open up the 50? Is there that little faith in retaining the ball that we'd prefer to just whack it long and pray for a miracle? That is an unattractive turn of events.

Our impotent start to the year hasn't changed my mind on trading Hogan - even if it did turn into a red and blue spot special discount giveaway so we could shift his personal issues onto somebody else - but my worst nightmares about him being gone are coming true. Everyone's used to McDonald as a forward now so the surprise element is gone, and while he's still capable of doing damage if he gets the ball in hand we've got to create the space that allows that to happen. We've also got to get the Weid into the game more and/or devise an avenue to goal that doesn't involve carpet bombing the 50 and hoping for the best or this season is one flush away from going down the toilet.

Another reason the inside 50s were so misleading is because the ball constantly flung in and out of our attack while we were failing to score from kicks the opposition could see coming like they've cracked our code books and are intercepting radio transmissions from midfielders to forwards. Then there's Petracca, more often than not left alone inside 50 while the talls are for some reason kicking it towards him, having a shocker and inviting unkind comparisons with the rampant Jordan De Goey. In a further blow for statistics his numbers read like a good game, but it was not. Seven tackles were welcome, but he looked miles off making an attacking impact. If this season is going to fizz out I'd rather we made the required statement and shipped him off for a spell at Casey rather than crossing our fingers and praying he'll somehow kick five next week.

I'll accept not picking Preuss this week because of weather concerns, but if somebody had access to a long-range forecast it obviously didn't influence the selection of defenders. May came in (and looks like going straight back out again), but christ knows why we persisted with two other tall defenders when a) there was a high probability of rain, and b) Geelong's forward line consisted of Tom Hawkins and small/mid-sized forwards galore.

May on Ablett at the first bounce might have been something to do with 666 but it didn't fill me with confidence about our matchups. I've already given up on the idea of throwing defence out the window and winning the type of goal-heavy shootouts that would give Channel 7's CEO a reason to live, and would really like to start keeping opposition scores down again.

I'd already have dropped one of Frost or Oscar and kept Hore, but when it became clear on the day that it was likely going to rain I'd rather have shoehorned Spargo back into the side. Hore was kept out of the Reserves practice match as the carry-over emergency, I suppose just in case we needed yet another defender. The result of our top heavy defence was Hawkins only kicking two (morally three considering he patronisingly gave one away) and everyone else under the sun taking advantage of holes in our backline so big you could fly an Airbus through to chip in for a couple.

Yet somehow despite all this we had more inside 50s than 23/25 games last year (and the other two were both thrashings), which if nothing else goes to show we have players who can get the ball. Now to get them moving it with some poise, not like they've been told it will explode if they hold onto it for more than a second.

Chief amongst the accumulators was the dear old Hamburglar himself, a midfielder for the ages whose 44 possessions were the most ever recorded by a Melbourne player not called Greg Wells. Who ditched out on us mid-season when it became clear we were never going to win anything and walked straight into a flag at Carlton. But while Oliver is racking up touches what's happening elsewhere? I love Brayshaw but his disposal is ropey, and Harmes is whole-hearted but wasn't much better with the ball last night. I expect Kolodjashnij was picked to play on 'the outside', where he subsequently recorded the second lowest disposal tally of his career. What possessed them to pick him on the back of one Casey practice game after they saw how Viney and Jones (both improved, especially Viney) went last week is beyond me.

Further to the total state of anarchy that we seemed to be in were allegations about choosing to kick into the wind in the first quarter, only to watch it drop off by the time the second started. I'd dispute any suggestion that this was solely to blame for the minutes of madness in the opening term that left us in tatters, but if true it's hard to understand where we earned the right to try cute manoeuvres. This club has been a bastion of conservatism for 160 years, 0-1 and at a ground that attacks us like poison gas was no time to start being radical.

That aside, the first 15 minutes of the opening quarter was the only time where we looked even moderately threatening in attack. Of course in an unwanted throwback to AFLW season, all the early chances were killed off without scoring, and when May welcomed himself to Melbourne with a turnover that came back to our old nemesis Hawkins for the first goal I thought "oh Jesus, here we go again". As did May I expect, currently having as good a start to 2019 as his mum Teresa. He and Kolodjashnij must have looked at each other in the rooms after the game and shared an unsaid acknowledgement that this wasn't the escape from misery they'd counted on.

There was a short period where we looked not only Geelong's equal, but capable of kicking a winning score. Like we did in regulation time at the same ground last year, before pissing it all away by treating defence as optional in the final seconds. McSizzle had one of his few opportunities for the night and missed a quick snap, before Weideman got our first from a tap in after a pass that could have gone anywhere. It was the sort of night where we were so sketchy in attack that you'd expect most of our goals to come from goalmouth scrambles, but we couldn't even create those. Later we conceded a goal toe-poked from a foot out with our backline camped everywhere around the square except where it countered.

Jay Lockhart then made a mockery of being added to our list 15 days ago (surely the latest we've recruited a player since Les Parish joined from Fitzroy in mid-1985) by running around his opponent like the Road Runner wrong-footing Wile. E Coyote to kick a fantastic goal and we were more than six points ahead. That moment of high excitement was quite literally as good as it got. Next thing some bloke called 'Gryan' (the only obvious explanation is that G is right above B on the keyboard) who had support Australian hip hop hair like the second coming of Ben Nason kicked a simple goal and disarray mode was activated.

The rest of the night was a parade of us kicking inside a forward 50 more crowded than a Tokyo train, then seeing the ball shot back as if fired from a mortar into a Geelong forward line where players were queued up waiting for the cheap handball and goal. An alternative route to purgatory was provided by Bayley Fritsch gifting Selwood a shot from the boundary by kicking on the full. I was hoping he'd be confused by getting a free that didn't involve ducking into a high tackle but alas no, and through it went. The last two goals of the quarter came from the ball bouncing around loose in our forward line, leaving me Googling for the name of our defensive coach so I could launch a campaign to drive him out along with his forward counterpart.

As steady rain began to increase the degree of difficulty for a comeback, conceding another in the dying seconds was what killed us off. I could have seen us coming back from three goals down, but the low intensity way they got the last compared to how hard we were working just to create half chances was all I needed to know about our chances of getting back into it. As was Petracca dropping a mark that would have left him with a shot after the siren. Usually that would only have cost us a point, but it was in the same area he kicked a set shot last week so who knows what greatness it may have generated. As it was his night died a terrible death from there.

The trauma of the last 45 minutes made me forget the second quarter was actually only one goal each. Sure, ours didn't come until we'd endured 20 minutes of pressure and missed opportunities but Geelong's goals late in the first quarter meant that when they got the first of the term we were rooted. It doesn't say much for our new look backline (at least the interim new look backline until Lever comes back in about 2024) that the period where we conceded the least goals coincided with May hobbling off into a Kardinia Park broom closet for treatment. I'm not laying the blame on him by any means, and believe he may have been requesting a psychological assessment after choosing to join us instead of Collingwood.

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, Brayshaw wound up on the ground after convening a session of the Frequently Fractured Society by colliding with Gary Rohan. In a reversal of fortune Rohan came out of it with a head injury, and Brayshaw a sore leg. Unfortunately for both Gus and May they had to come back instead of getting a head start on traffic, via Gus having a furious session on an exercise bike where he was pictured turning back an offer of salt and vinegar chips from a fan. Most players would have ignored the bloke, but because we're a higher class of people he politely declined, probably wary of them being spiked with opium and costing him a 12 month ban.

May returned looking proppy (cliche!) and lasted until three quarter time before succumbing. We must have learnt out lesson from running Joel Smith into the ground for no reason against Brisbane and chose to leave him on the bench looking thoroughly gloomy for the rest of the game. The only thing that would have raised his spirits would have been if a Brisbane player wandered past and he'd have stuck out a good leg to trip them.

Melksham should get a bravery medal for what he's done in that dysfunctional forward line the last two weeks, and his crumbed goal just before the half kept us clinging on through the break by our fingertips. I still had more faith that we'd broker peace in the Middle East than win, but it provided some motivation to hang around until the second half instead of going outside and digging until I found high voltage underground wires.

Should have got the shovel out. Compared to, say, the Bulldogs coming from five goals down in the last quarter against Hawthorn (suck shit $cully), our hopes of coming back to life were not aided by one of the most remarkable examples of wasted dominance you're ever going to see. For more than one reason it brought this to mind:

Never before has a team done so much attacking in a short period of time without scoring a goal, only to instantly roll over and concede about six in a row immediately afterwards. Melksham turned a kick from the pocket into zero points, Weideman wasted Jetta's bravery in almost killing himself in a collision, a kick to a fully outstretched Clayton Oliver expected he was going to take a towering overhead mark and Brayshaw stormed out of the middle and trying to have a shot because he had as much faith in the forwards as the rest of us. It was undignified.

On the other hand, Geelong always had a player on the outside of forward 50 contests because they knew we'd over-commit multiple players to the ball, and benefited from the Hibberd debacle when he fumbled into the path of Selwood on the line. Cats players were all but taking numbers and waiting for their turn to kick one without breaking a sweat. It was putrid, another goalless quarter to go alongside the scoreless end to Round 1. The common thread in both has been criminally wasted opportunities before the the other lot came to their senses and pulverised us.

It was the sort of unholy struggle I remember from early season games a few years ago. What a dickhead for thinking we'd turned the corner, though if you look back now and remove the "everything's going to be ok" glasses maybe it was always going to happen. Obviously they didn't mean for half the list to have off-season surgery, and would have packed a few off midway through last year if we weren't a live finals chance. Pre-season injuries haven't helped either. Alternatively, maybe we're still good enough to generate a massive number of attacking opportunities but just stuffed them up due to being panicky idiots.

Speaking of panicky idiots, we also became the first team in AFL history to give away a penalty for botching the 666 starting positions. There's been plenty of warnings dished out so far, but everyone's taken notice except us. In a great piece of slowing the game down they then had ensure everyone went back to their rightful positions before Geelong could play on. Remember when we thought the new rules were going to play right into our hands? Who would have thought the absence of runners would lead to our already dodgy on-field leadership getting even worse. Time to send out hidden messages with the water carriers, and to borrow Richmond's new #fistedforever symbol for general use:
After the brief, ultimately pointless, excitement of Viney kicking the first goal, the final term had an embarrassing stench of effortlessness about it. Like when they beat us at the same venue about 10 years ago and one player feigned sleeping during their box-ticking rendition of the song. We'd already had several minutes of replays of Dangerfield pointing to his grandmother, now Hawkins ran into an open goal, stopped, handballed backwards to a rookie and allowed him to kick the goal. Depending on your view it was either a great moment in gallant teamwork or the most arrogant display since the Ox taunted Carlton fans by holding the ball aloft running into an open goal.

By then I'd already been desensitised so he could have put it on the ground, lifted his teammate up and swung him at it like a putter for all it would have affected me. Just another in a lengthy queue of goals that made the art of kicking goals look piss easy, while we were dividing by zero via instructions we Google translated from an instruction manual written in Klingon.

In keeping with the spirit of the evening, the goal's genesis was Petracca almost being responsible for the death of Nathan Jones with a ridiculous hospital pass. Perhaps the co-skipper may be open to somebody helping end the pain:
Travelling fans who'd already wasted their Saturday night were tempted to throw themselves into the Barwon River when at the height of our fourth quarter distress the umpire paid an administrative free against KK for running in the general vicinity of the man with the ball, even though they had about as much chance of interacting with each other as Mercury and Neptune. If last year's after the siren fiasco encouraged me to scarf down a massive sympathy Maccas at the Rockbank services Maccas on the way home this could have ended in a one-man inhalation of a 32 piece KFC bucket and a trip to the emergency department.

Last week we were one of the stories, now we're the story. Prepare for a sad music AFL360 montage, and a week of people spouting 'in the know' bollocks like "got ahead of themselves". The only analysis I'm interested in is a three hour Fox Footy special On The Couch broadcast where they go through behind the goals vision of all 73 inside 50s and diagnose how we only turned them into six goals.

On the plus side, we won't have to battle with Ticketmaster for a seat at the finals this year... Maybe the VFL finals, if we don't take all their players and leave them relying on winos found in the main street of Cranbourne.

2019 Allen Jakovich Medal votes
5 - Clayton Oliver
4 - Jack Viney
3 - Jake Melksham
2 - Angus Brayshaw
--- Nobody deserved it, so I'm just for the top tackler ---
1 - James Harmes

Apologies of sorts to Salem, Fritsch and Gawn. None deserved votes but any could have blagged one by default.

7 - Jake Melksham
5 - Clayton Oliver, Christian Salem (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
4 - Angus Brayshaw, James Harmes, Jack Viney
1 - Corey Wagner

Aaron Davey Medal for Goal of the Year
There's a severe lack of options again, but this time we did have one goal that deserved celebrating. Back when we still had hope in our hearts during the first quarter, Jay Lockhart celebrated his miracle ascension to the big leagues with this dummy-selling classic:
Oh the joy I got watching somebody take that level of piss out of his opponent with what was either his first or second kick in senior footy. Needless to say the defender had the last laugh by the end after he'd helped knock over about 57 other attacks.

In these once more troubled times, there is one element of this club's output that you can rely on to put in 100% every time. It's the one that's constructed on crepe paper by people doing it for free because of love for the club, not the players and coaches pocketing a combined $15,000,000 per annum.

For the second consecutive week a tidy milestone banner with a nice picture of the player being honoured came out on top. Though to be fair it would have been almost impossible to lose to Geelong's rudimentary, stringy fonted and quite frankly crap effort. You have an entire town in which to find somebody with artistic flair, use it. 2-0 Dees.

To make me stop taking the piss out of Dwayne Russell you'll have to kill one of us, but there's nothing to endear you to his insane stream-of-consciousness commentary than the lowest common denominator SLOP offered by Channel 7. Even if it's aimed at the lowest rung of footy fan I can't believe anyone is genuinely interested in their "ho ho, that's good from you Darce" style commentary where they spend almost as much time talking about themselves than the game.

I secretly enjoy self-indulgent Triple M style wankfests on the radio, but it offends me greatly on television because a) other than as bonus content on a Grand Final DVD, nobody is ever listening to a radio call again whereas the TV coverage is the historical record of that game, and b) should any future generations go back to watch this game, they will quite rightly wonder what Cameron Ling winning a sixths cricket premiership had to do with anything. The only improvement from their 'live, interactive and shithouse' Saturday night coverage of a few years ago is that it no longer features Brian Taylor, and even then there were stages of this call where I was nearly pining for him to turn up, call the wrong player and misdiagnose an injury.

The undisputed worst thing about Channel 7's coverage is going out of their way to highlight people you wouldn't sit next to on a train vigorously reacting to umpiring decisions. I'm not into outrage, but a week after two different sets of people belted the suitcase out of each other in the stands (in right about the area where 7's NuffyCam scans for content) maybe take a break from showing people screaming their heads off like they're addressing a rapist and giving double middle fingers to players? Watching the Collingwood game on Thursday, I hadn't seen so many middle fingers on my TV since the glory era of Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Either they had a less bloodthirsty director last night, or the locals were so relaxed at their easy win that there wasn't enough content to switch to, but for those of you watching at home next Friday night I guarantee you multiple cutaways to people nearly frothing at the mouth after a contentious decision. Usually I'd say our fans would be too classy to join in, but there's a few people with veins on their forehead that are about to pop in spectacular fashion so don't rule anything out.

Next Week
Against all odds our return to Friday night football is a battle of 17th vs 18th. If you were an enterprising legal firm you'd hand out 40,000 branded templates demanding an EGM, because whoever loses out of us or Essendon the fans are going to go off. Obviously Worsfold has more to lose than Goodwin because he hasn't just signed a contract extension to 2022, but otherwise it's a dead heat as to which group will spin out more in the event of defeat. Our expectations were pumped up by a month of quality football, they just always assume they're going to be good on name value alone.

My dream is that we'll deliver a win so stinging that it will instantly tear Essendon open like the San Andreas fault and launch a civil war between people who want to bring Hird back and those who haven't been lobotomised. After gifting Hird the last win of his tenure and Worsfold the first of his, this could go either way - his last win before a losing streak that ultimately sees him given the arse, or the excuse Essendon's board need to tip him. Maybe we rushed to re-sign Goodwin unnecessarily early in the season in case he got tempted to go back to the Bombers and get on the human growth hormone again.

Against my better judgement I think I'll be there, having finished work at 07:00 that morning, taking an hour to get home, sleeping for as long as possible, then getting up just to go another hour and a bit back to the 'G, then driving home exhausted like I'm pissed. If I didn't self-report in advance here there'd be every chance of just falsifying a Crowd Watch segment and pretending I went.

You'd think that Essendon's loss to St Kilda is an even better indication that we'll win than their big defeat to GWS, but I'm worried after the Bombers have been carpeted for recruiting too many fancy outside runners that we're the perfect team for that tactic to finally achieve a safe landing against. Before they go on to lose to everyone else.

The best I can do is say we might win. Until Friday I'll be comforting myself with the memories of the second half against them last year, a return from the brink that set off the best six weeks of the 21st century. If this goes bad it's season over - I'm not dismissing the 2006 example of a recovery from 0-3, but like Sydney turning 0-6 into a finals appearance that was a once in a lifetime last gasp from a lot of players heading towards the end of their careers at maximum speed.

If you waited for the club to give details you'd never know that Casey played a practice match against Geelong yesterday. Given that the development of our players is far more important than VFL premiership points I'd say this was as worthy of base level coverage as any match. The MFC disagree. They could have at least stolen the details off the forums and pretended to have had somebody there watching. Meanwhile Casey's Twitter is going at about one post a fortnight, and used up this week's on a promotional opportunity so were unable to provide any details of their side playing an actual match.

What I gather is that Preuss didn't do much around the ground, which is fine because that's not what he's employed to do when Gawn is there. If it's dry on Friday I'm picking him. Not like our forward line could get any worse by adding another tall. Gawn was much better this week, despite ongoing attempts at niggle, but we'd be mad to bring a guy in to give him a rest and not play him before winter arrives and makes a three forward setup less attractive.

I was ready to bring Spargo back for Sparrow based on the assumption that if neither of them can play four quarters at least Charleston has the runs on the board from last year - but if he was disappointing as reported that's not going to happen. Instead I'll ring the Corey hotline and give Wagner another go. I'll bring his brother in as well so Hunt can go forward. If a pair of Wagners is the answer god only knows what the question is but I'm getting desperate here. Stretch also comes in, having done well in his only game before being injured last year and reportedly one of the best for Casey as well.

Going the other way Neal-Bullen and Petracca are the ritual sacrifices, and if May is fit then I'm narrowly going for Frost over Oscar because he offers more of an attacking option. Yes it's likely at some stage he'll dash out of defence at 200km/h and either kick the ball to an opponent, fall over, or run straight into a tackle but at this stage of our disappointing 2019 journey I'd rather that to Oscar doing straight out defensive jobs while looking petrified. Unfortunately if May's injured grundle keeps him out then we'll have to put up with both of them.

I'd love to go right over the top and drop about eight players as a knee-jerk overreaction, but our much vaunted depth is running on fumes in the spots where we need it. So, Hunt gets one go forward, Lockhart another chance based purely on the goal and hitting Joel Selwood, and while KK kouldn't find a kick I'll bank on him improving second up after a spell like Viney and Jones.

IN: Preuss, Stretch, C. Wagner, J. Wagner
OUT: Neal-Bullen, Petracca, Sparrow (omit), May (inj)
LUCKY: Hunt, Kolodjashnij, Lockhart, O. McDonald
UNLUCKY: Hore, Keilty, Spargo

Final Thoughts
Who'd be a Melbourne fan? The big let down is a sporting tradition, but even when I was conservatively tipping us to finish 5th in the face of a hype campaign that suggested we'd win the flag unbeaten there was a morbid fear of it all going bad. If this season was food dropped to the floor it's still in three second rule territory rather than rampant salmonella outbreak, but the point of no return arrives on Friday. If we lose by 1 or 191 this season is over. Don't forget the year ends with Richmond, Collingwood, Sydney and North in Hobart, if we're not well established in the eight before then forget about it.

Subconsciously I've been preparing myself for this all summer, I can't count how many times I either said or wrote words to the effect of "if it doesn't happen this season we've got the list to challenge for a few years to come..." What has the world come to when I'm looking to Richmond's surprise down season before a flag for inspiration?

I'll meet you all in the window of the school book depository next Saturday morning...


  1. Would you say it's time for Dees fans to crack each other's heads open and feast on the goo inside?


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