Thursday 25 April 2019

Best we forget

The Japanese did it on a battleship, the Germans in a train carriage, and now the Melbourne Football Club has issued its formal surrender on the MCG in the shambolic manner of a Benny Hill chase scene. Four real goals in the first quarter, none in the last three, a 1-5 record and the most flagrant disregard for blockbuster fixturing since kicking 3.10 on Queen's Birthday 2014.

In case you were left with any doubts after St Kilda dragged us around the MCG by our ankles, the season you thought was over after the Essendon game really is. Hopes of an unlikely comeback that briefly flickered after the Sydney game are gone, leaving us with four months to build a platform for next season, and a good 10 months before we'll know if it's structurally sound. Alternatively we could pull off the greatest miracle known to man, win 13 in a row and make the eight but I know which one I'd be having my money on.

Part of me wants to respond to this unexpected spiral back to the bottom by becoming hysterical, but for now I'm approaching it with maturity and understanding. Later in the season this may be replaced by screaming and destruction of inanimate objects, but for now there's nothing to be gained from grabbing a pitchfork and seeking vengeance. I'm willing to write this year off as a cock-up and blindly believe that things simply have to get better in 2020.

Of course, there's no guarantee they will, but what better test of the on and off-field group than seeing how they cope with a season that has died after six games. If they're a premiership contender of the future they get to the end as best possible, learn valuable lessons and come back next year ready to run through brick walls. If they're not, they delve into finger pointing and a 2011 style civil war that ultimately blows the doors off the place.

The question of where it's all gone wrong will dominate the footy media for about the next fortnight before it becomes boring and they move on to the next story. It's such an omnishambles that they'll still be picking up bits of us with tongs by Round 23. Everyone's got a theory, but I dare say it's a case of failing to adapt and having everyone else (except Sydney apparently) work out what we're up to. Whether this stems from the raft of surgeries, the players being a bit too happy about making a prelim, bonkers coaching or other I will leave you to debate. What I will say is that just because a player can't train at full pelt it doesn't mean they can't learn a new trick. Bring back Neale Daniher taking the list to school in his first pre-season and teaching them the style he wanted.

SurgeryMania becomes less of an excuse every week (and the injuries since then are probably more of an issue now), but even after half the list turned up in traction I was still prepared to delude myself into a top four finish. At least until our wonky pre-season, where I curbed my enthusiasm to fifth with a big disclaimer about how competitive the middle of the league was going to be.

Early returns suggest the race for the eight is going to be a battle royale as expected, but now we look more likely to be contending for 13th than 8th. This is going to lead to a sickening spectacle at the end of the year where people who think they've got the system beat want us to lose and maximise our draft position. What a putrid idea, just win whatever we can, and if that means finishing 9th by three games then bad luck. If you can't get a good player with pick 10 you deserve to be shit - especially when you've already got a list brimming with barely harnessed potential.

Under the circumstances I think our fans have been quite reasonable. It's hard to go from winning two primetime finals in front of a combined 180,000 people to stinking up the MCG four times in six weeks. These are the people I have sympathy for, now the mentalists who tipped us to win the flag. Even worse were the ones that thought we were going to kick on from last year and finish top. I could have bought into a Bulldogs style run to the flag from the lower echelons of the eight, but when a side hasn't finished higher than third since 1964 best to be conservative.

Literally the only comfort to be taken from our latest nightmare performance are memories of the same fixture three years ago, where the 13th best team of 2015 comfortably accounted for a three time finalist and nearly left me in tears on a train laughing at Tigers fans calling Finey's Final Siren (RIP) to demand the coach be removed immediately. Richmond stayed the course, successfully altered the off-field setup, harnessed the power of their best player to turn him into a juggernaut, and reorganised to the point of winning the bloody flag 18 months later. Now we're the ones left pining for melted down airwaves and Chris from Camberwell rants. Sometimes you kick, sometimes you get kicked...

This is nowhere near the brink for Goodwin, and there's recent history of other coaches coming back from worse. Like Nathan Buckley, who would have been taken out of the Holden Centre with a hood over his head years before nearly winning a Grand Final if it wasn't for the wank bank memories of his playing career. And as Alan Richardson becomes the latest man to clamber out of a shallow bush grave it's time to recognise that no matter how upset you get Goodwin is unfuckwithable for another 12 months minimum. Whatever your plan is for recapturing the fleeting glories of 2018 it's not going to include the dismissal of a guy who just had his contract extended until the end of 2022.

From an outside, almost completely ignorant, working on the vibe position the coaching doesn't look to have been much chop since the Hawthorn game, but that's only one of many issues with us at the moment. If you could mysteriously replace him with Clarko in an overnight coup there would likely be some benefits, but it doesn't mean an instant return to kicking 160 points and winning finals by keeping the opposition to a score of 46.

There's a list of excuses a mile long, but the coach foolishly took them off the table by asking us to concentrate on the immediate form of the team shortly before we played three stinkers out of four. Due to a lack of alternatives I'm supporting the coach, but still don't understand what the rush was to give him such a lengthy contract extension. Did they think Essendon or Adelaide would sack Worsfold/Pyke and buy him as a replacement? Or was it that everyone behind the scenes knew we were heading into the void this year and wanted to give him the security to have an unencumbered crack at it next year?

Regardless of the reason, the die is cast, and the focus should be on how we can build around him, not assassinating his character in the hope of forcing him out and trying again with the next bloke. Nobody wants to write a season off and leave themselves another year closer to dying without seeing a flag, but unless the Essendon drugs unexpectedly kick in and he drops a steaming turd on Glenn Bartlett's desk he's safe as houses. What odds a reunion for the scandal era Bombers coaching crew as James Hird shows up to be his senior assistant?

None of this is to say that Goodwin, his side, and the entire organisation don't warrant scrutiny. Last night was as incompetent a performance you could get in a game where we were a point down during the third quarter. The effort was certainly there, at least until the opening goal of the final term which prompted everyone to switch off, but there was an enormous gulf in class between a ruthlessly drilled genuine Preliminary Final side and one dropping from the same giddy heights like a meteor.

It was the sort of game where we might have got something against a lesser side, but ran into a group of people who quickly realised they didn't need to fall for our shit and treated us with an appropriate level of disdain. Fans of contested possessions had a rare win, and Gawn was tapping everything again, but that all counted for nil when our kicks into the 50 were predictably aimless, without a forward anywhere to be seen, and every exit from defence had the grace and poise of a Three Stooges routine. When considering disposal efficiencies please deduct a few percent off every defender for the ones that were shanked and fortuitously fell into the arms of a teammate.

There's been some praise for how (relatively) few scores we conceded from so many inside 50s, but in another blow to that stat ever being taken seriously how many of them came from us hacking a kick out, Richmond hacking a kick back in, and us hacking another kick out. Our backline did as well as possible against two premium full forwards, and had we fielded anything approaching a competent forward line they might have spent today being lauded as heroes, with some of the least confident disposal ever seen swept under the rug. But we didn't, so bad luck let's have it out.

I'd like to go on the record in saying that I was against the move of Tom McDonald back into defence. In one-on-one contests he was good, and after a rocky start his disposals weren't any worse than the other backmen, but even if he's done bugger all for five weeks it basically conceded that there was no way we'd kick a big score. If Neal-Bullen could get back into the side on one ordinary seconds showing then any of Oscar McSizzle, Petty or Keilty could have had a bash at establishing themselves in a key position.

With Lever and May to return there is no long term reason for Tom to play in the backline, so I'd rather try and do something to get him going up front. And if that doesn't work drop him. We have defenders waiting in the wings, and while the tall forward stocks are much thinner I did enjoy Tim Smith's start. One wank-handed marking attempt in the first minute aside he showed plenty for 30 minutes before going missing with the rest of our forward line. Bit rich to describe him as 'promising' when he's 28-years-old, but certainly enough to justify life as a depth player.

For some unexplained reason, possibly an up yours from the coach to people who say he's not creative enough, Clayton Oliver started at full forward. He didn't prove the answer to our forward issues, and was soon back where he belonged, but the move did coincide with our best period of the game. Lucky for the coaching staff, because if we'd bled two goals straight out of the centre while he was standing in the square there would have been a riot. Using Hibberd to tag Martin was a far more effective surprise move, the sort that works well once then fails the next 20 times they try it.

To get to the first goal we had to concede one in the most Melbourne 2019 fashion possible, with the ball going *boing* on the Demon Trampoline from our attacking 50 and into the arms of Tom Lynch (the Gold Coast recruit you can rely on to play a game), to mark over Frost. Every Melbourne fan in the place thought this was the beginning of the end for our poor, overworked defenders, but it was the inspiration for our best period of the night.

The only time we looked even remotely potent was when Melksham was creating havoc around half-forward. He directly set up Smith with the picture perfect kick to the top of the square, and did likewise to generate a free and goal to Maximum later in the quarter. Both were exactly what you want an inside 50 to look like, not somebody blindly booting the ball high in the sky so that it comes towards the forward like it's been dropped out of an upstairs window, giving all the time in the world for defenders to rush in and spoil the contest. By the second quarter he had nobody left to kick to, and was probably still our best player but for zero scoring impact.

It would have helped to have some semblance of a working forward line. Without Preuss and McDonald they tried to 'go small', but there's no point doing that unless the smalls are going to put on pressure. We're in desperate need of an Aaron Davey Classic style player who chases, tackles and kicks goals out of his arse. While Tigers big and small were mercilessly harassing our defenders, at the other end they were chopping off everything that came near them without a contest and flinging it back the other way like it was being launched from a pinball machine. What's that we said about an official MFC pinny a few years ago - low scoring, nothing of value on the playing field and full of balls.

I've liked Hunt in attack (though he was ineffectual last night), but he's never been a big tackler, and Garlett is in extended clock-rundown mode. He and Lockhart (the man who the AFL website still insists wears #0) had three tackles each, but there was barely a hint of pressure on their defence. Richmond has won plenty of games by more over the last few years, but their backmen wouldn't have had many easier nights. Mind you, it's not easy to register a tackle inside 50 when the ball is generally ejected before hitting the ground. There was an Adam Oxley-esque feeling to the way our attacks were being picked off with the greatest of ease. It was telling that after Smith's early mark and goal, the only other time we ever looked dangerous in attack was when Gawn floated down there.

If nothing else I'd have kept McDonald down there just to take the heat off Weideman, who offered absolutely nothing. As we usually either aimlessly hoofed it towards goal without looking if there were zero to 18 opponents in the way (hello Angus Brayshaw), or tried the chippy chippy set up game and still found nobody to aim at there wasn't much of an opportunity to create goals from other sources. That's why our six goals were made up of four set shots, one gift from a turnover that barely snuck in and one solitary major from a loose ball. Our only goal of the entire second half was from a 50 that took Fritsch to the square - this is not the way to go about things.

Lockhart got a tasty goal from open play - and credit where it's due Garlett helped set it up - but even when we were winning by more than a goal it was difficult to imagine holding on for four quarters. A particular highlight was the Richmond bloke on social media chastising us for trying to play boring and steal the game on the break, as if we were capable of pulling off that sort of Machiavellian plan. That we didn't kick a goal from open play after his post says everything you need to know about the counter-attack theory.

The leaking of a goal out of the middle immediately after another well-taken Hunt set shot gave an indication of where this was heading. Nevertheless, going to quarter time a goal up was significantly better than I'd anticipated. Three quarters of the most boring play known to man later the margin was more like it - though I'd have expected each team to kick about five more goals, with all of ours coming in time-on of the last quarter.

If we can't get a genuinely terrifying pressure forward, what about just picking some pricks? Remember the glory days of this fixture when Bugg shhhhed people/pushed an injured Riewoldt over, Dunn got into a fight with a wide grin, and Viney steamed into to brawl with Alex Rance to protect the honour of Jack Watts? Who could you rely on for a scrap last night? Even Nathan Jones has started to prepare for retirement by not getting fined every three weeks. I'm not saying to re-recruit Bugg from Instagram in the mid-season draft but there's a serious lack of mischief about this team. I don't want May shirtfronting people, but a bit of light agitation would be good even if you can't back it up on field.

After that promising first quarter, what more MFC thing to do then follow it with one lousy behind? It's almost like Richmond identified what we were doing well and shut it down. What a bloody novelty. This left us desperately trying to play the same way as the first quarter but not getting anywhere, like continuing an argument over the phone ever after the other person has hung up.

The only thing to recommend the second quarter was Billy Stretch doing a good job on what passes for 'the wing' these days. No doubt we'll reward him with another dropping. Otherwise, it was just the Tigers throwing the kitchen sink at an over-worked defence, our forward line not existing, and a couple of token goals to keep TV executives from necking themselves. It was genuinely bad football, the likes of which you'll never rub out without deleting teams that go 50 years without a flag.

It was hard to understand how we were so close, even after the fiasco of the last goal. Our players get sucked towards the ball so much that it should be immortalised in Latin as part of our club crest, and when two went to one on the forward flank it allowed Jack Riewoldt (why go near him, what's he ever done?) to drop it in the square for Martin to knock through. It was just the sort of pissweak goal you'd be less upset about if we were capable of kicking more than six at the other end. For all the trauma about our ropey defence it's a simple fact that our attack propped us up last year, so we're not going anywhere until scoring is fixed up.

Richmond had injury problems, but without about five players crashing into each other and being carried off on stretchers there was not even the remotest chance of us taking the lead and holding on to win. We did have a few minutes of positivity at the start of the third, but given that our only goal came from a defender kicking the ball straight to Neal-Bullen 40 metres out (and him being so surprised to get it he barely scraped it home) how were we supposed to capitalise? The most exciting moment was when we stormed out of the middle on a seemingly unstoppable path to goal but Harmes and Viney did the old "you kick it, no you kick it" handball routine and it was turned over. It was 666 stuff in all senses of the word.

Ending the third quarter on five goals should be a thing of the past, but it just went to show how unfocused (and at times insane) our attempts at scoring were. Good thing Richmond were wasteful in front of goal, and barely got out of second gear after half time. When you're coming off a four day break why waste energy on an opposition that could have played for a week without kicking a winning score? Conversely, by early in the last many of our players had decided (and I can't say I blame them) that they'd been through enough. I preferred the days where we had the short break after this game and Essendon would fall apart in the second half.

Via Viney being skewered by a magnificent bump, we spent 10 minutes holding on via our fingertips. God forbid somebody could have taken the game by the scruff of the neck and played a quarter for the ages we might have given them something to worry about. Alas we just carried on with everything that had failed for the previous two quarters and went down without a fight. It would probably have been too dangerous with Lynch/Riewoldt lurking about, but what about throwing McDonald forward in the last quarter just in case it took them by surprise? No, we just continued to shamble the ball towards 50 and didn't get another goal until Fritsch was marched to the line for some administrative breach of the rules.

The MFC faithful lasted until the second Richmond goal before they did the smart thing and started going home, before the third prompted a near stampede out the door. Conversely, Tigers fans went off like they'd beaten somebody, Channel 7 executives called the AFL to see who they can replace us with in this fixture next year, and I slunk out of the ground at slow speed behind people incapable of navigating crowds, weary but far from murderous. Welcome to a 16 game holding pattern.

2019 Allen Jakovich Medal votes
5 - Jake Melksham
4 - Billy Stretch
3 - Clayton Oliver
2 - Marty Hore
1 - Michael Hibberd

No real apologies, but Brayshaw, Gawn, Salem, Smith or Viney could have snuck in due to the lack of legitimate competition.

Maximum holds the line, but he's got challengers from the forwards, midfields and defenders. If only our team was as consistent around the ground. In the minors, Hore has all but locked away the Hilton, and is starting to mount a campaign to be our top defender as well. Which is like being the best pilot on a spiraling plane.

14 - Max Gawn (LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
12 - Jake Melksham, Clayton Oliver
10 - Christian Salem (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
9 - Angus Brayshaw
6 - Marty Hore (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Rising Star Medal)
4 - Bayley Fritsch, James Harmes, Nathan Jones, Jack Viney
4 - Billy Stretch
3 - Christian Petracca
2 - Jayden Hunt
1 - Sam Frost, Michael Hibberd, Corey Wagner

Aaron Davey Medal for Goal of the Year
In a comically small field, and with no Preuss to deliver plus-sized novelty goals, we hark back to a time in the first quarter where we looked like a side that might kick a decent score. This was where Jay Lockhart hit his punchy, low, snap that rocketed through faster than one of our attacks turning into an opposition goal. 

With Jay's second nomination he is approaching a Preuss/Blease level novelty-to-real-goal ratio. Last time I tried to get him a trip back to Casey to enjoy playing in a winning organisation, now that they've lost to a bunch of 18-year-olds I'll go a step further and whisk him away on the Spirit of Tasmania to get as far away from this club as possible. He's welcome to show up at Round 23's Kruezer Kup II against North in Hobart and have another go, but otherwise just appreciate that you got to play the game at the highest level and run from this club with all your might.

The clubhouse leader is still Preuss from the pocket against the Swans. Long may he reign.

From my Row MM vantage point I couldn't tell if any of the Richmond people had come for the joint banner ceremony dressed as disrespectful arseholes this time so I'm prepared to pay the draw. Dees 5-1-0 for the season.

Crowd Watch
At the risk of sounding like somebody writing a letter to the Herald Sun, I'd have thought people would know by now to remove their hats during the ceremonies. I'm far from an Anzac Day fetishist, but fark me how about showing a little bit of respect? I wonder if the ground announcer just forgot to mention it, as it's definitely been said in recent years. It certainly got a run in the pre-match of the Essendon/Collingwood game (and how much Crowd Watch content could you have got out of that game from the Bombers fans staying through the presentations to bleat about umpiring decisions and Bucks calling them out on it).

Pre-match predictions that a big crowd would impede on my sanctuary in Row MM were unfounded but I still found 'the people' too close for comfort. Four rows in front of space wasn't nearly enough, especially after the traditional half time migration where people climb to the top of the stairs, feel a bit weird about sitting the back row and move a couple down. It happens at every game, even when there's 20,000 people there.

This time we had the remarkable scenario of a girl arriving at the break, then planking across several seats like it was 2011 all over again. She was so committed to the gimmick that she lay there face down for about 15 minutes of the third quarter. I would have taken a picture to demonstrate how unusual this looked but was in direct line of her arse and didn't want to come across like a nonce. I'd say it was a better angle to watch the game from, but have you ever seen how much bird shit is on those seats? You'd be insane to put your face anywhere near them.

Press Conference Watch
Stop. Saying. Connection. All. The. Time. I know what it's like to have a song stuck in your head, but Goodwin must go to sleep dreaming about this:

Next Week
We were putrid after our last extended break, and just as bad on a short turnaround here, so pretty sure I know where it's going on Saturday week against a side we've beaten once in a home and away game since 2006. Hawthorn are mediocre, but we're like a car left on a hill with its handbrake off. They will win, and win easily. The added disappointment will be losing to $cully, now appropriately wearing toilet colours. Don't be juvenile and boo him, use your words and call him a wanker.

As for changes, roll in the kids! Just joking, we don't have any. It will have to be the same merry-go-round that spins around and spits out anybody who might be able to play. I can't even start to contemplate doing anything that would make things better, so I'm just going to suggest alterations for my own amusement.

For example, I would like to say thank you for your service to Lewis and offer him a seat in the coaching box but there's no way that's going to happen now that Nev is out for 10 weeks. Or by the time we're finished with him, the whole season. Apparently Lewis brings all the leadership to our backline, which they are responding to by playing like they're lost in the jungle and are about to eat each other to survive. During the week we were reminded to be in awe of him because of all he'd done at Hawthorn, to which the fans of a club that has won chuff all in 55 years didn't think had much relevance.

You shouldn't get nasty and personal about any players without a dollar sign in their name (and I hope the people I watched the St Kilda game with weren't secretly taping the actions that make me a tremendous hypocrite) but I don't give the fattest rats' clacker about the flags. All I know is that he was good his first year with us, alright last year, and in two outings this year has been pox. If he's not going to be there next year then there is really no point carrying on. Hang around, do elite standards shit at training but move over for the next generation. Even if they don't actually exist yet. Not far from throwing Garlett under the same bus.

This is where I'm at with available MFC listed players who aren't in traction:

Preuss - Automatic in. Beast of a man, kicks wonderful goals.
Spargo - Cannot play four quarters to save himself. He's not alone on that front, but while Lockhart is doing ok I'm satisfied for Charleston to play a few consecutive games for Casey.
Bedford - Not exactly setting the world alight in the seconds, but can't be many weeks away from him getting a game just because.
Kolodjashnij - Now firmly behind Stretch. Needs to win his spot back.
Maynard - Desperate to see him play more than one game in a row so I can judge whether I've got any interest or not. If Viney is injured then make like Lisa Simpson and call the Corey Hotline
Jordon - Not ready yet, but by about Round 10 we might be in subtle tank mode and the door will fling wide open for him.
O. McDonald - Poor old Oscar, I already felt sorry for him but now it looks like he's not only lost his spot but that his brother will keep him out. I'd rather work on making Tom great again. Otherwise Sizzle Jr will need to wait until Frost does something completely insane that ends in dropping.
Sparrow - Didn't do much wrong in two games, but hard to get a look in now against Hunt, Lockhart and [Garlett?]. Having said that, not like our forward line is excelling so I wouldn't riot if he was picked.
Baker - Was desperate for him to get a game around the time of last year's St Kilda debacle based entirely on his pace and resemblance to Danny Bonaduce. Has reportedly done less than bugger all for Casey though, and is looking very much like a delisting. So in that case I'll wait until after Queen's Birthday before giving him a token game.
Petty - Like Oscar, the new found fetish for McSizzle in defence again might count against him. And like Oscar, I'd rather we worked on Tom kicking goals rather than taking a spot in defence. There is nothing left to play for, I want to give him a spin ASAP.
The Wagnii - Neither are horrendously offensive, but on the other hand neither is offering all that much either. Both will be back, but unlikely to be game changers.
Keilty - I can't tell whether he's a forward or a backman based on Casey playing him everywhere. Will definitely get a game at some stage but has to wait for Smith to do his full rotation in and out of the side before getting a go as a forward
Chandler - Not banging the door down. But that's the problem, who is? There's more players trying to get out than candidates to replace them.
Bradtke - That he's splitting his time between Casey and the Under 18 competition tells you everything you need to know about his chances of getting a game. Has done some promising things in the VFL already but is a long term project.

So, based on that I've got far more ins than outs. Lewis literally only survives because Nev is out - and pending miracle VFL form by Josh Wagner this could save him for the next 10 weeks. I'd rather just move on but there's no point without somebody waiting to step up.

Neal-Bullen shouldn't have been recalled on the back of one so-so seconds game against kids, so he goes out to find some form, and Weideman can take his enormous contract demands and follow. I think this guy is going to be massive in a couple of years, and joke on me when he sooks up at being dropped, leaves the club and stars elsewhere, but his attack on the ball was very ordinary and he needs a message. I'm bringing Preuss back, playing Tom McDonald forward and giving Petty a go in the backline.

Key position defender is the only spot on the ground where we've got two players pushing up for a game, now that we're playing the season out it doesn't make sense to hold up a spot for McDonald when we know he's capable of kicking goals. Unless we're pulling another key forward out of our arse somewhere work on getting him going again. It's no longer about this season, it's about 2020 and beyond. And Maynard is a straight swap for Viney, hopefully avoiding the ignominy of playing three one game seasons in a row.

Elsewhere, Garlett did one of two decent things on Wednesday but not nearly enough to convince me he's going to be there next season, so I'm prepared to give him one more shot at recovery before booking the forced retirement press conference.

IN: Maynard, Petty, Preuss
OUT: Neal-Bullen, Weideman (omit), Viney (inj)
LUCKY: Garlett, Lewis, Lockhart, T. McDonald
UNLUCKY: O. McDonald, C. Wagner

Obviously we're going to lose, but if nothing else you're starting to expect it again so that softens the blow a bit.

Next (everything after that)
I hope we take to this mid-season draft with the attitude of finding the most novelty player possible. At this stage of my latest deepression I'd almost sign up to Billy Hartung just on the back of that Robbie Flower-esque quarter for North last year. Failing that find me the most potent lower league forward eligible, cross your fingers for a miracle, and if it doesn't work ditch them at the end of the season.

Was it worth it?
From a temporary location at Demonblog Towers 10.5 while I'm quite literally in the middle of moving, I had the option of walking to the left and (eventually) getting the MCG, or right down Arden Street to North's ground. There I could have taken a heroic dose of substances, stood in the fading light and imagined I was watching us win by 108 points in Round 10, 1972. That day we kicked 11 goals in the first quarter, now we've kicked 13 in our last eight.

So no, other than the novelty of walking to a game for the first time since about 2012 it was not. I should have gone with my first instinct and sat on the couch eating chips and yelling unkind things about Channel 7 commentators. But I'm still compelled to be there, even if I'm discovering it's a lot less fun (if that's the way to put it) stinking after a dose of finals fever than when it seemed we'd never make the top eight ever again and would probably be relocated to Zanzibar.

Final Thoughts
Nothing can shake my confidence that we'll emerge from this cavernous drop in form intact. It's not just blind faith, it's as I've said so many times since the start of 2017 that we've got the building blocks in place, we just need to complete the set and put them in the right combination. At the moment the blocks are strewn across the floor, the dog has chewed on half of them, and the instruction manual is in Swahili.

Next season the players that need another 15 games have them, those who don't can be shuffled out, the football department emerges from a decimation, we get new fitness people, a rubbish team draw, and hopefully a vast majority of players coming back for pre-season both unoperated on and without an arse the size of Byron Pickett. And most importantly, here's hoping the year of living dangerously leads to us coming up with some innovative tactics that have us lead the pack for once rather than scragging along at the back hoping to copy the success of others.

For now though, we're going to have wear some horrible games. The sad thing is that even when it clicks and we either beat a good team or thrash some of the other flotsam there's going to be a muted feeling because we'll know deep down it doesn't mean anything. But, even if the wins aren't nearly as valuable as 12 months ago keep in mind that there's either something big just over the horizon or you're going to get a chance to spend 2020 in full bloodlust mode trying to sack everyone from the President, to the CEO, coach and receptionist.


  1. Hunt needs to watch McKenna and Saad and learn how to get the ball. 7 touches up forward is not enough.

  2. 18 pts down early in the last quarter. The Demons look exhausted and are barely hanging on. The commentator says something like "If Melbourne can kick the next goal the pressure will be back on Richmond". He'd forgotten that we'd only kicked five goals to that stage. Hardwick hardly looked concerned. My wife hosting colleagues was the only thing preventing me going right off my trolley as I helplessly watched our season slip below the waves. Hats off to Hibberd for keeping Martin relatively quiet. Also to Maximum for the chasing, tackling, making position, etc that the smaller guys are supposed to do. I know what I'd be highlighting in the midweek video review.


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