Tuesday 24 December 2019

Demonblog's top 50 wins of the decade

We sent the Demonblog staff on a three day retreat to a desert island in the South Pacific and asked them to come up with their agreed list of 50 favourite wins from 2010 - 2019. This is what they came up with. In unrelated news, Melbourne has sold two home games a year to the island. Thanks for the almighty Melbourne Footy YouTube channel for the majority of the video evidence.

50. Round 15, 2010 vs Essendon (+19)
In an awful field, 2010 was probably our third best season of the decade behind 2018 and 2017 (tragic ending notwithstanding), but by this stage things were threatening to blow up. The three memorable wins earlier in the year were long forgotten, followed by a one point win, seven losses, and the Queen's Birthday draw. Nearly three seasons into the job Dean Bailey was under real pressure for the first time and got a much needed victory here.

The margin flattered them considering we were 32 points up and they gave away about five goals from 50 metre penalties, but I'll never forget Jamar finally having more than five kicks in a game, a measurement that nobody except me gave a rat's about. Also, forgotten until I watched this highlights video was the colossal defensive fuckup that gifted Green a goal.

49. Round 19, 2012 vs Gold Coast (+42)
Rewatch the rampant first quarter where we kicked six goals to nil, don't waste your time with the rest. One year to the round after the horror of 186, it didn't matter that the Suns were still kids and broken down veterans, after two years of teams teeing off on us without resistance the opportunity to pummel somebody else was most welcome. Even the guy in front who wouldn't stop turning around for a chat during the first quarter rampage couldn't ruin it. Like an album with one great track there was nothing else to do it, we only won the last three quarters by two points.

I ended in sitting in the AFL Members for the second half because the crowd was too slender for them to protect the door. Also memorable as the last appearances of Jordan Gysberts and Cale Morton, tying together the career of two highly ranked draftees who were Melbourned to within an inch of their lives.

48. Round 1, 2016 vs GWS (+2)
Not the greatest win in quality, but an important opening round statement against an up and coming side. I was very keen on a) coming back from 21 points down at the last change, b) Clayton Oliver being nominated for the Rising Star on debut, and c) Tomas Bugg wearing a weird jacket in the rooms after. Did not like a) being 21 points down to begin with, b) Giving up a goal with nine seconds left, then nearly conceding another one to lose. With an Essendon side decimated by drug scandal suspensions to come the following week we were a near certainty to start 0-2 and... oh fuck it.

47. Round 9, 2014 vs Richmond (+17)
There's a lot of Richmond in this list, because for a long time they and Essendon were the only Victorian teams we were competitive against. How rude that they went on to win two flags and become a dominant force while we're still splashing around at the shallow end. For now this was an enjoyable victory. We played one slashing quarter, then withstood a comeback to win comfortably, beating our win total from the previous season in just over two months. Neville Jetta was a late withdrawal with the green apple splatters.

Roos already had two wins in the first eight weeks, but this was the win that made you wonder if the rebuild was going to happen sooner than expected. It didn't, but how was I supposed to know that at the time.

46. Round 7, 2019 vs Hawthorn (+5)
A rotten season means this result ultimately meant stuff all, and we might have only won because a Hawthorn player dropped a mark inside the forward 50, but nonetheless it was exciting at the time. Ended with Sam Frost doing an turbo speed, escaped greyhound clearance that convinced the Hawks to buy him at the end of the year, and Christian Petracca bouncing back from nearly being drowned at a training session to play a key role in saving the game. Also featured the worst unpaid 50 metre penalty in all of football history. Hope was temporarily, and mistakenly, restored that we might catch fire and romp through the rest of 2019.

45. Round 4, 2011 vs Gold Coast (+90)
After our (relatively) great leap forward in 2010 I went into the new season with great expectations, only to start with a draw, a loss and an unconvincing win. After beating one Queensland team we confirmed that there was a whole state worse at football than us by thumping the competition's newest entrant, but hardly by the earth shattering margin required to put us on the map.

Even in the week some talkback nuisance caller accussed Brent Moloney of taking a piss on a bar I was as convinced as I'll ever be that we couldn't lose, but as the Suns had lost their first two games by 119 and 71 points I wanted to get involved in the big wins as well. Indeed we did thump them, but having travelled to see this live I left sour like a spoiled child thinking we'd underperformed. We had, but even if the margin was only boosted by an eight goal to one final term against a bunch of kids and an out of his depth rugby leaguist it wasn't all that bad. Certainly better than the next seven years of interstate trips.

Strangely enough Gold Coast won their first game the next week, then conceded 15 goals in the first quarter after that. I guess we landed in the middle somewhere. Even stranger, it was the first of our three +85 points wins for the year and we still ended it in near fatal crisis.

44. Round 17, 2018 vs Footscray (+50)
Having already humbled the Dogs once at Docklands, we did it at home as well. This was a massive danger game on the road to finals and we came out of it alive courtesy of a slashing third quarter, kicking eight goals in 12 minutes in the sort of exhibition you'd package up and send to internationals if you were really keen on introducing them to the game. Instead they get AFLX, which I can assure you will not feature in the next 46 entries.

43. Round 8, 2017 vs Adelaide (+41)
Adelaide hadn't held many fears for us since the shutters mercifully came down on Football Park, now we added a rattling comeback to our South Australian portfolio. From a near death position we not only passed the Crows but stuck two fingers up at them on the way past, and it looked for the first time like we might be a realistic shot at playing finals.

A disastrous second quarter left us five goals down, before Tom McSizzle was thrown forward because he was doing bugger all in defence, sparked us with two goals, and discovered the role that landed him a hefty payrise a year later. The game loses some points on the "why did you get into such a big hole to start with?" rule, but is still worthy of a mention for the 12 goal to two second half. Locals still blaming umpires by the final siren.

42. Round 23, 2015 vs GWS (+26)
A nothing game watched by almost nobody, but the end of one of the worst runs in a single stadium ever recorded. Finally, after over eight years we won at Docklands, and having seen almost all of them this meant a lot to me. The quality of football was toilet, Jeremy Howe was only playing to get him to 100 games for future father/son purposes, and Daniel Cross almost killed himself in his last game falling head first on a concrete surface, but not only did we win at the cursed ground but for the first time in years ended the season on a high. So few people took notice that when we won our next start at Docklands it was widely referred to as the droughtbreaker.

41. Round 4, 2015 vs Richmond (+32)
The first Anzac Day eve game, where Jesse Hogan made Alex Rance look like Tom Gillies and we held them to one goal in the last three quarters. Rance bounced back reasonably successfully, Hogan continues to have the worst luck since Lee Walker's knees.

40. Round 11, 2018 vs Footscray (+49)
This Dogs were well off premiership form, but I still appreciated celebrating Nathan Jones' 250th by touching them up. Shame we had to concede the first three goals and Jake Lever's ACL but all's well that ends well.

Meanwhile, at this point how many flags did you think we'd win in a row?

39. Round 1, 2015 vs Gold Coast (+26)
Gold Coast is the interstate Richmond, appearing on this list far too often because they were one of the few teams we consistently beat in our worst years. Sadly, when the reverse list of the worst 50 losses comes out they'll feature prominently there too. The Suns peaked in 2014, and were within striking distance of the finals a few weeks out, so rumbling them in the opening round with seven new players was a welcome reminder - after losing the last 10 of 2014 - that there was some life in this team yet. Also involved one of many false starts for Jack Watts.

38. Round 20, 2018 vs Gold Coast (+96)
The opposition was as useless as tits on a bull, but it was still a much needed reminder of our attacking power as we battled to qualify for the finals. At nine goals to one in front at quarter time it should have been a massacre for the ages, and even though we narrowly missed the ton on a kick after the siren, it was still an impressive shellacking. You don't often see 99% of the people in a stadium having genuine fun, but when we were 75 points up in the second quarter the whole place had the collective horn. Should have challenged the record 141 point win from 1926, but was still a vital reminder that we could score heavily given the right circumstances - namely shithouse opposition.

37. Round 21, 2016 vs Port Adelaide (+40)
After a narrow, fall over the line win against Gold Coast, and a much better received drought-breaker against Hawthorn, we were still an outside chance of catching a free-falling North Melbourne for eighth with three to play. First task was to win in Adelaide, and that we did in style, going six goals up at half time, surviving a third quarter comeback and kicking away to win easily. Buggered it all up against a lowly Carlton the next week.

36. Round 18, 2010 vs Brisbane (+10)
Another late season game that had major implications on slim finals chances, and another time where the win ultimately meant BUGGER ALL because we weren't good enough. In the case of 2010 we'd done all the damage to ourselves by dropping off in the middle of the year. It was good at the time though, providing that the morale-boosting win over them earlier in the season was no fluke. The Lions had gone from top of the ladder the first time around to the bottom but it still took all sorts of work to get rid of them. Dunn was gifted a stupid 50 and kicked the winning goal and I resisted the temptation to throw my couch off the balcony.

35. Round 14, 2011 vs Richmond (+27)
More Richmond, from the day we beat them to officially become the competition's Next Big Thing. Featured both sides of the Jack Watts equation, giving away a stupid free, then making up for it with a crucial goal that made you want to die screaming in a ditch for him. He was more good than bad, and I still miss him every day, caring not an ounce that he didn't have the training ethnic of Milo of Croton.

Victory left us in a fantastic position to make the eight, if not for a follow up match against the doomsday combination of Docklands and St Kilda.

34. Round 8, 2015 vs Footscray (+39)
A much welcome return from the dead after losing to Hawthorn by 105 points the previous week. Also memorable for Hogan hanging shit on Tom Boyd, shortly before Goldenballs pocketed a couple of a million, a flag, and got out of the professional game before it destroyed his body. Four match points to Melbourne, four life points to Tom.

33. Round 4, 2013 vs GWS (+41)
The ultimate in "you wouldn't need to launch a comeback if you weren't so far behind", as Mark Neeld went within a quarter of being lynched before his team - usually tedious battlers - took advantage of the wearying Giants to boot the highest score any Melbourne side has ever recorded in a final quarter.

The rest of the game - and season - was so awful that it probably doesn't deserve such a lofty position on the countdown, but that insane last quarter is very dear to my heart. Especially when Maximum kicked a goal straight into the head of some poon wearing a GWS comedy wig. All 1625 people to have viewed this three second video are blessed:

Later that year we were lucky to kick 12 goals in a month.

32. Round 5, 2016 vs Richmond (+33)
Them again, this time in the best of the Anzac Eve games. Back when Richmond was a basketcase. This had it all, including Tom Bugg gleefully starting fights, then shhhhing the Tiges cheersquad after a goal (they may have had the last laugh), Garlett kicking one of those pearler goals he did all the time at the start, and Watts' teammates steaming in to protect him with murderous intent after he was whacked about the head. I think about this night regularly, especially the Richmond fans ringing Finey's Final Siren fanging to sack a now two time premiership coach.

31. Round 8, 2019 vs Gold Coast (+1)
Like the GWS comeback six years earlier, this suffers from feeling like we should never have been in that position to start with, but how can you say no to such a wacky finish. Neither team was any good, but we'd battled to a lead deep in the last quarter when we cracked like an egg and let them go ahead by six with a minut left, causing me to kick shit out of a desk in frustration.

Then, in a scenario that scientists are still debating, defender Marty Hore snuck forward to tie the scores with an absolute Howitzer from 50 metres out. I'd probably have taken a draw, but the Suns midfield went missing and allowed us to forward again in the dying seconds. McDonald dropped a mark right in front of goal, but recovered to toe poke it onto the post for the winning point with seconds left. Undeserved but welcomed.

30. Round 4, 2016 vs Collingwood (+35)
Pies fans would have crucified Buckley after this if he was anyone else, but for us it was another vital step forward towards respectability. Not only was it a relatively big scalp early in the season, but there was much personal satisfaction from watching with a mouthy Pies fans. There's a trend in this list of games where we thought Watts was going to blossom into a superstar, I think the problem is he did that more in the 70 games we did win than the 770 we lost.

Also famous for Sam Frost kidnapping the ball for a rare goal. Insert dated reference about a Channel 9 camera crew in Lebanon

29. Round 1, 2017 vs St Kilda (+30)
Played in equatorial conditions under the Docklands roof at the tail end of summer, it looked like more of the same for this dreadful outfit when we were four goals down in the second quarter. Then out of nowhere came a free-wheeling comeback that landed us five goals up 10 minutes into the third. It didn't get any better than that, and Joel Smith's debut was ruined by stacking it in a marking contest, but after dropping a giant turd in the opening round against the Saints at the same venue the last time we debuted a coach, Goodwin's entrance was much more successful.

28. Round 4, 2014 vs Carlton (+23)
After 12 losses in a row dating back to mid-2013, the first win under Roos, and our first against Carlton since they threw the Kruezer Kup was obviously well received. Even better that it plunged the Malthouse era Blues into crisis. Ended with a tremendous Cameron Pedersen goal from the boundary line that nearly finished with me running into the shots of the nutters having their wedding photos taken in the Ponsford mid-last quarter.

27. Round 13, 2017 vs Footscray (+57)
I'm fantastically jealous of how the Bulldogs came from nowhere to nick a flag, and even though they'd gone back to the middle of the table team they'd started September 2016 as it was still extremely satisfying to carve them up here. In the aftermath a supporter who'd just waited up to 53 years to see their club play in a Grand Final called to say she was so disgusted that she stormed out of a match before the end "for the first time ever". Try some bloody perspective.

26. Round 23, 2018 vs GWS (+45)
We'd already qualified for the finals (yes, really), next step was to ensure we played a home Elimination Final instead of going to Sydney for another game against the Giants. Without this win we don't get the first bananas finals crowd, and while GWS basically couldn't give a rats, we still had to avoid a post-qualification comedown. That we did, playing with the freedom of a team with nothing to lose except a home final. Everyone came out of it satisfied except Dean Kent, knocked out of the finals team with a crocked shoulder and never to be seen again.

25. Round 4, 2010 vs Richmond (+55)
Funny what happens when you start trying to win again. In our last start against the Tigers we did our best to lose and could still only go down to a goal after the siren, now unencumbered by draft rorts we tortured them to the tune of nine goals. It was one of those days where Colin Sylvia played a game that made you think he was going to win 12 Brownlows, kicking five. We got eight goals in the first quarter, the best of which involved the much missed Ricky Petterd flinging himself a loose ball in the pocket like Wayne Harmes and batting the ball back to Matthew Bate.

Naturally we followed this by a goalless second quarter, but the second half was an enjoyable procession that set up a better win the next week. No finals though.

24. Round 8, 2018 vs Gold Coast (+69)
After a few weeks of scoring at a Roos 2014 level we'd started to wind up a fortnight earlier with 108 points against Essendon, but this kicked off three mega scores in a row. For slightly less than a month we were quite frankly abusive to anyone who got in our way, and it was wonderful. "It's only Gold Coast" they said, "far cough" I replied.

23. Round 11, 2011 vs Essendon (+33)
For the second year in a row Bailey entered a game against Essendon one loss away from being plunged into crisis. I'd already tried to sack him five weeks earlier, now we were one win from our last five and sliding down the ladder like a waterslide. For a rare Friday night game the coach rolled the dice on debuts for Gawn and Howe, and saw his side recover from a 10 point deficit in the second quarter to kick six unanswered goals in a blistering third term.

A half-strength comeback twice got the Bombers to within three goals, before a triumphant burst of three goals at the end made it safe. Bails punched the roof of the box and the exploding water droplets briefly looked like shattered glass, Watts took a screamer, Gawn missed a goal from the square and we were temporarily back in action before losing our next start by 88.

22. Round 9, 2010 vs Port Adelaide (+1)
We'd been in reasonable form, but after losing 13 games in a row outside of Victoria, the odds were against us breaking the drought in sweaty Darwin. After hiding in a meat locker during the breaks we shot away in the third quarter, and were 33 points up at the last break. All good if both teams faded, but Port ran it out while our lot were searching for oxygen.

By the last quarter lone ruckman Jamar was so stuffed we had to resort to Sylvia as a centre bounce ruckman, which went about as well as you'd expect. Somehow we held on in the face of eight last quarter goals. Jack Trengove whacked a point through to put us in front, we still nearly lost, and Russian was so rooted by the end that he had to conduct his post-match interview on the ground. To nobody's surprise we lost by nine goals the next week, kicking off a lucrative but usually troublesome relationship with the Northern Territory.

21. Round 7, 2016 vs Gold Coast (+76)
When people get upset about Simon Goodwin they like to pretend that the Roos era was a non-stop cavalcade of fun and frivolity from day one, when in reality we were as boring as batshit for most of his term. Part of this was out of necessity considering he took over a side that usually haemorrhaged goals. The shackles finally came off in his last season, and this was a grand example of what we could do.

We'd already scored 130 points twice in the first six weeks, but this was the first time we visibly bullied a team. All the action came after half time, where after eight goals each in the first two quarters we went boonta, piling on 16 to six after the break. There's plenty of similarities between this performance and the attacking juggernaut we (briefly) unleashed on the competition two years later.
James Harmes played like Gary Ablett on Gary Ablett, I got so excited during the third quarter that II did a lap of celebration around the house, 12 players kicked goals and life was good until we went back to losing the next week.

20. Round 13, 2012 vs GWS (+78)
If winning our first game against Gold Coast by 90 points was unconvincing, this was arguably an even worse performance, but it ranks highly due to the comedy value of the original and best anti-$cully Carnival of Hate. Never before, or since, have football fans protested with such a high degree of comedy and wit.

While this guy became a Gimmick Hall of Fame legend...

... some dickhead sat in the crowd wearing a Mexican wrestling mask, which had no clear link to the protest, leading to a rare moment of silence from Channel 7 commentators as the camera cut to him and they didn't know what to say.

19. Round 18, 2015 vs Collingwood (+37)
By late 2015 we were no longer a confirmed wreck, and had taken a massive scalp at Kardinia Park a few weeks earlier, but were wobbling all over the place late in the year. When late goals in the third quarter cut our lead to eight and half the players looked like they were about to die it seemed that we were going to be steamrolled by the finals chasing Pies. This was the day we were introduced to 120 minute man Max Gawn, who went into the last break sucking so much oxygen the first three rows passed out but emerged unscathed to play a pivotal role in the final term.

18. Round 12, 2016 vs Collingwood (+46)
Double your Collingwood with the day where we finally threw the Queen's Birthday shackles off after nine years without a win. And in some style too. You'd have preferred a larger margin but beggars can't be choosers. After conceding a two quarter time lead the unusual scenario of Tom Bugg tagging Steele Sidebottom into the ground helped inspire a comeback that left us 22 up at the half. In his second game back from a year and a half off, Jack Trengove kicked a goal that brought the house down, we cartwheeled away to an easy victory. Finally an enjoyable public holiday Monday.

Best on ground in all senses was Max Gawn. He kicked three, annoyed an overly sensitive chrome dome, and when presented with a trophy flexed it like a dumbbell.

17. Round 20, 2016 vs Hawthorn (+29)
We reached the last month of the season a way outside chance of making the eight, but with a triple premiership side that we hadn't beat since time immemorial in the way it seemed highly likely that our improbable run was going to end here. After all, we'd been lucky to beat Gold Coast a week earlier in a victory so unconvincing that it didn't even qualify for this list, so what chance the top of the ladder Hawks? Unusually plenty chance. We led at every change, never looked in serious trouble, and had the Viney/Gawn combination playing like they'd been kissed on the dick by god himself.

In 2007 we lost to them in a pre-season game that saw them pass us at warp speed on the way to becoming one of the great units while we spun into a uncontrollable death spiral. I really did hope that this was going to be the return leg, but while they've never seriously contended for a flag since neither have we. Still a monumental last quarter when we took off and left them in our dust.

16. Round 13, 2014 vs Essendon (+1)
Something of a false alarm considering we lost every other game for the rest of the year but forget that for now. Also ignore a dreadful first quarter where the Bombers continually teed off on us but lacked the attacking power to put up an unbeatable score. With James Frawley doing his limited best at full forward a comeback from 33 down early in the third quarter seemed unlikely. I bet some walked out at that stage and missed all the fun. Even four of the next five goals only cut the gap to 22 and you'd still have got long odds against us winning.

Somehow we kicked four straight to take an eight point lead midway through the last. The only problem was that we'd accelerated the comeback so much that it left us with 10 odd minutes to defend. Cue the Bombers kicking two in 90 seconds to take the lead, then only narrowly being denied the sealer from the next bounce when Lynden Dunn - who played a monster game in defence that left him typecast as a backman for the rest of his career - narrowly got a hand to it on the line.

With time almost out the ball was still deep in their backline, before a passage of play where absolutely everything went right. Pedersen bent out out of an attempted tackle like he in The Matrix, then the ball went through Jones, Frawley, McKenzie, Tyson, Viney and Cross, before landing in the arms of seventh gamer Christian Salem with 20 seconds left. The obvious Melbourne scenario would have been for him to miss, become permanently psychologically damaged and see a promising career destroyed. Somehow he rose above the tortured history of this club and made himself the hero.

Nothing comes easily around here so we still had to survive another inside 50 in the dying seconds before being confirmed winners. Cue much excitement. It prompted some betting agency dickheads to stop stealing money from the vulnerable for a few seconds and print a cardboard cutout of Roos as the Messiah. In a rare sign from the heavens we were punished for this blasphemy by falling to pieces, not winning again until the last round.

15. Round 13, 2011 vs Fremantle (+89)
For the second time in 2011 we came off a terrible defeat, thumped by Collingwood on Queen's Birthday, to wreak terrible havoc on an interstate side at the MCG. Five goals up at quarter time there were some concerns about a 2008 style collapse, especially when the Dockers won the second quarter, before ending the game with a 12 goal to two avalanche. Very satisfying. Ultimately meaningless six weeks later when Geelong pulverised us and tore the joint in two.

14. Round 7, 2014 vs Adelaide (+3)
Of the many frustrations I've got from the last 20 years, our fecal record at Football Park is near the top of the list. Even when we were good in the mid 00s we'd go to water under Central Standard Time. Of course when we turned to total sewage in 2007 we kept losing there. Our record at the ground was so bad that they conveniently guaranteed the Crows a farewell win by fixturing their last game there against us. Could have played Port, could have recreated their first AFL game when they thrashed Hawthorn but no, it was send in the clowns and we did our bit by not only losing but allowing somebody called Lewis Johnston to Kingsley us with six goals.

There was scant confidence that we'd open our account at the redeveloped Adelaide Oval here, then.bugger me we were six goals in front in the second quarter. Everyone knew there was a comeback on the cards, and when the margin was slashed to 12 at three quarter time it was how far Adelaide. Somehow we held on, staying marginally ahead until the siren, even after an errant kick by Frawley with 22 seconds left gifted them the opportunity to snatch it. Thousands of Adelaidians missed the fun because the cowards had evacuated the ground when it looked like we had it won.

Not quite as groundbreaking as it seemed at the time, but I made so much noise in the last quarter the neighbours must have thought there was a murder on. Also involved Jack Grimes delivering the first positive fisting involving Melbourne for several years.

13. Round 14, 2013 vs Footscray (+4)
Regular readers will be across the concept of the Chris Sullivan Line, the mark by which all comfortable leads are judged. This almost toppled the famed Round 6, 1992 collapse that gave birth to the line. In the early 90s you could be sure there was another win coming from somewhere, by mid 2013 I thought we might be put into liquidation before the next one. That's why this meant plenty, but the near disastrous circumstances make it even more memorable.

The only win under Neil Craig came against a team only one spot ahead of us on the ladder, but light years in front for the retention of dignity, and as it turns out winning premierships. When we conceded the first goal within a minute it was so far, so 2013, but with the players going at it like they'd had a giant Neeld shaped veil of negativity lifted from them, then bounced back to be nearly five goals in front at half time. Didn't expect it to last, but on the night where I unexpectedly found a dead mouse under my seat, the hits kept coming. David Rodan provided the highlight of his MFC career with a belting goal, which we can now freely admit shouldn't have been counted because he stepped out of bounds, and the unlikely forward combination of Jack Watts, Chris Dawes and Jack Fitzpatrick ran riot with nine between them.

When we went 42 points up halfway through the last quarter even I, foolish and young, thought there was no possible way we could lose. Then we nearly did, clamming up in spectacular fashion and conceding seven straight goals to not a cracker in a 15 minute explosion that made the Bulldogs look more like 186 Geelong than the barely competent side we'd been running rings around a few minutes earlier. We survived because Watts, lovely Watts, decided he'd done enough to win us the game by kicking four so he may as well drop back into defence and save us with a goalline mark. We held on, there were scenes and we quickly went back to being complete shite.

12. Round 9, 2018 vs Carlton (+109)
If you'd told me we'd have a decade like this and our only triple figure win wouldn't make the top 10 wins I'd be incredulous but here we are. After being the competition's chopping block for years a thumping win like this was much needed vengeance. What a wonderful feeling - and I hope to have it again before I die - of being deep in the last quarter and being scared that the margin's going to drop below the century with the same tension you get defending a narrow lead. 18 months later they finished above us on the ladder. Even the royal lady was surprised:

11. Round 5, 2010 vs Brisbane (+50)
A traditional opening round debacle aside, we'd been very good in the first month of the season. The near miss against Collingwood with the Petterd dropped mark carried us through to a battling win against Adelaide, then we tonked Richmond to sit 2-2. Now came the big test, against a glamour Brisbane side that had topped up an already finals calibre list with goalkicking and amateur pornography sensation Fev and were unbeaten through four.

Honourable loss expected, remarkable victory obtained. A five goal to one burst in the second quarter set up victory, and after narrowly losing the third we held our nerve, them goalless in the last, and kicked away to a thumping victory. Draft sensations Scullgove were key. What could possibly go wrong? Also gave us this classic photo of a gleeful Matthew Warnock putting Fev on his arse while a Lions fan in the background has a shit one.

Reportedly Fev's numerous personal issues also ran afoul of the comedy stylings of Joel Macdonald, suggesting he was going to win a TV for best on ground, only for Joel to reply "at least I have a house to put one in". These days he'd be fined $5000 for being hurtful. If the MFC Facebook page had its way they'd have been teammates two years later.

10. Round 12, 2017 vs Collingwood (+4)
After breaking our Queen's Birthday losing streak a year earlier, and with more than a hint of finals about us, one of our biggest crowds in years enjoy a classic finish. After an off-chops game which swung from us leading by two goals, to being four down, then a point up at the last change, it reached the dying minutes within us ahead but looking for all money like a side that was going to concede a late goal and lose by a point.

Enter Jackson Redvers Watts, unfairly maligned for the best part of a decade, now going for a run down the Southern Stand wing and inside 50 with the chance to make himself a hero. The well-worn negative Watts cliches suggested he'd fall flat on face or shank it out on the full but he steadied to smash it home and provoke the biggest roar of the decade to date. It was especially exciting after spending the day listening to a corporate box fulling of moaning Collingwood peanuts abusing us. Abuse was delivered at the siren, only for the Pies to take their revenge in the last game of the season by helping ruin our finals chances.

It quite literally never got any better for Watts, first injured, then tossed on the scrapheap for a bargain price. We'll always have this.

9. Round 12, 2015 vs Geelong (+24)
Talk about a slow burning breakthrough, it took us another three years to play finals after what felt like a major step forward. To say it took me by surprise was an understatement, stung by the years of endless misery at Kardinia Park and crestfallen by the timekeeping fiasco that cost us a win against St Kilda a week earlier, I tipped us to lose by over 100 points. The last time I got something that badly wrong was thinking we'd beat Footscray by 10 goals in 2011 then them doing the reverse on us.

Lucky I was right in the middle of my having to go to every game no matter what phase, because otherwise there's every chance I'd have chickened out on this trip . Instead, unlike every other match I've ever attended in Geelong except 2005, I returned home radiant. Maximum announced his arrival with a blindling game, Anal Bullet kicked three in his second start, The Spencil looked like he was ready to run wild (ironically, Gawn's emergence quickly killed that off), and one of the great curses was killed. We extended our glee for an extra week via the bye then lost by nine goals.

8. Round 7, 2011 vs Adelaide (+96)
A constant theme of this list is times that you thought everything was going to be alright. This, our second biggest win of the decade, isn't really one of those moments. Obliterating teams by nearly 100 points will never get old, but this was more of a relief than anything, coming after a rocky start to the year and defeat in Perth a week earlier that led me to ask - not unreasonably - what time Todd Viney was available to replace Bailey. Didn't take long to get to that, but in the meantime this was Bailey's Revenge.

With future Demon mastermind Neil Craig allowing the combination of Moloney and Jamar to run rampant in the centre, and the Crows players looking like they'd rather be anywhere else we took flight. Temporarily anyway, it was back to losing a week later. Still, on the day it was the best fun I'd had in years, including an eight goal to two romp in the last quarter that briefly threatened to take the margin over triple figures. Brad Green grabbed at the jumper, Jim Stynes joined in the huddle, and all was right for a few days.

It wasn't all good news, Jack Grimes broke his foot (you were truly never more than five metres from a Grimes injury), Jamar did so much heavy lifting in the midfield that his knee gave out for a month, and Trengove was suspended for three weeks because Patrick Dangerfield (who kicked six the next week) had a porcelain head that went to bits when tackled. Never mind all that, and who knows what impact those players going out of the side had on our eventual spiral into death, this was a day of good, clean, family entertainment.

7. Round 10, 2012 vs Essendon (+6)
Nine weeks into the Neeld era those of us who'd bought into the vision of being the hardest team to play against were starting to get nervous. Nine losses, two by over 100 points, and even parody Twitter accounts were taken seriously when they suggested the coach might be about to get the arse. Under the circumstances, beating an 8-1 Essendon who'd won three games by over 60 points seemed as likely as peace in the Middle East. Then they didn't even score 60, falling victim to full forward Colin Garland, in a plot twist so extreme that if it were a TV show you'd complain on the internet.

From 15 points down in the third quarter we clawed our way back in front, hanging on grimly in the last quarter against a side that kicked 6.16 like they were affected by powerful hallucinogens. I was so scared that we were going to throw it away in the last quarter that my legs didn't move for 20 minutes, and when the siren went they'd stopped working. There I was sitting in Row MM of the Ponsford Stand unable to exit the stadium because I could no longer walk down stairs. It provided excellent time to reflect on what a magnificent result it was, even if much of the credit went to the Bombers playing suicidal football.

In the wake of the surprise result Neeld coined the phrase 'reality bus', then spent the next 12 months being repeatedly run over by it.

6. Round 10, 2018 vs Adelaide (+91)
The most remarkable thing to happen in the Northern Territory since Lindy Chamberlain's retrial, a side that played a Grand Final 11 competitive games earlier was dismembered so violently that their coach spent three quarter time silently eyeballing his players like he was about to go full Bradley John Murdoch.

In the last of the Trilogy of Terror games, we made scoring look so effortless you could have deceived yourself into believing the free scoring was ere going to last forever. Lever whopped his old side, Hogan kicked an effortless five, Brayshaw played like he was going to win multiple Brownlows and we registered our biggest ever win outside of Victoria. As far as crises go, the one that we dumped the Crows into here wouldn't rank in our top 20.

The Criterion Collection - genuinely great wins

5. Round 17, 2010 vs Sydney (+73)
By the standards of the rest of the decade, a three year run at the bottom of the ladder wasn't so bad that we needed a life-affirming victory to convince us to go on, but this was the day it seemed everything was going to come good under Bailey. That even if we didn't fall into the finals that year, we were a near certainty for 2011. Just because we were losing by 31 goals barely a year later doesn't mean this wasn't still magnificent.

From 18 seconds in when Dunn, still wearing his dastardly moustache, kicked the first goal it was a dead-set procession. An eight goal first quarter and we never looked back. In the days before the middle deck of the Ponsford was walled off to the common man, I was sitting in front of a Swans past players function and at half time poor old Bob Skilton was finding no comfort in once having coached us, gazing miserably out the window.

We might have put the cue in the rack there and called it a job well done, but pressed on to a bonkers 14 goal lead at the last break. It was going so well that James Frawley not only chased Lewis Jetta halfway down the Southern Stand wing but also chipped in for a goal of his own. Brad Green put on five, Bruce McAvaney screamed "The Dees are going to be something!", and he wasn't proven wrong for a year. I left the ground thinking that everything was going to be ok. It wasn't.

One fan was so enamoured of McAveney's screeching that they intercut an otherwise perfectly normal highlights video with a cartoon rendition of Bruce cranking one out in celebration. I assume nine years on that no legal action followed.

 4. Round 22, 2018 vs West Coast (+17)
The final margin goes no way to telling the story of this bonkers match. We'd spectacularly botched a chance to qualify for finals on home turf a week earlier, now the equation was win in Perth or go into Round 23 a red hot chance of buggering it up like 2017 again.

After finally getting it right in our last start at Subiaco (more on that shortly...), we now had to win first up at the new Perth Stadium. Two victories in a row in Western Australia felt like a bridge too far, but when we scooted to a 26-0 lead midway through the first quarter it looked like all our dreams were about to come true. Of course there was toil and struggle in our future, and by midway through the second quarter the Eagles were a goal behind and threatening to overrun us. Then something strange happened, three goals on either side of the break restored a 21 point lead.

You thought "surely we can't throw this away twice?" and you were wrong, even two goals late in the third term were pegged back by a DemonTime special at the 31 minute mark, leaving us just eight points up and wobbling all over the place like a drunk driver. Enter a baffling last quarter where we kicked the first goal, then conceded three to be behind at the 18 minute mark. Had we lost from there I might have missed the final game due to hurling myself in front of a train, then first Jake Melksham took advantage of future premiership player Tom Barass falling on his arse to put us in front, then the ice-cold Dean Kent landed a set shot that extended the margin beyond a goal.

It was really going to happen. Unless we did the full Melbourne and conceded two goals in the last two minutes. Then Melksham marked in the square, kicked another and it was beyond doubt. As the Legion of Doom used to say, what a rush. The only downside was being in a house where not one other person appreciated the gravity of the situation, interrupting the wild celebrations at about the 10 minute mark of running around the house nearly in tears of joy to ask "so does that mean you're in the finals then?" Oh yes it did, and it was fantastic. Sour old tart Chris J**d complained that players celebrated the win too much, confirming everything we'd known about him since 2007.

Have a dramatic AFL360 highlights package to remember it by:


3. Round 14, 2017 vs West Coast (+3)
There were closer wins, and the one above meant a lot more, but not many that came as late, in such outrageously ludicrous circumstances from a completely unlikely player, or had genuine finals implications.

Like Football Park, we were treated with contempt at Subiaco for over a decade. The difference was that in our last appearance at this ground we battled like bastards to come back from a dreadful position and win. Sure, Subi had its revenge when the result there in the last game tipped us out of the eight but we only had ourselves to blame for that. If you marked wins down for what happened next this list would be a top zero.

Everyone knows about Tom McSizzle throwing the ball towards his boot while being tackled at the top of the square with 20 seconds left, putting us in front with his fifth, what's often forgotten is that it was our third goal in a row - and McDonald's second - after being 16 points behind midway through the last quarter. At a ground we traditionally died in the first, second, third and fourth quarters at.

A long hoof by Michael Hibberd from wide on the boundary bounced fortuitously off the hands of Cameron Pedersen, to McDonald, who did the best stand up in tackle ever, manoeuvred himself towards the goal, chucked the ball in the air and threw his boot at it successfully. Some Eagles fans claimed it was a throw. They are morons. Being the quiet, unassuming character he is, Tom refused mass celebrations and instead ordered his teammates back into defence, where they defused a final attack and got us over the line.

I fell to the floor of my loungeroom, pounding the ground with my flat, open palms, screaming "YES! YES! YES!" like I was in the throes of ecstasy. Because I was.

The Melbourne Football Club went on to completely fuck up the rest of their season.

2. 2018 Elimination Final vs Geelong (+29)
1. 2018 Semi Final vs Hawthorn (+33)

Obviously these are the two highest points of the decade - and arguably any time back to the 2000 Preliminary Final - and a case could be made for either of them as number one. Part of me wants to declare them the joint winners and be done with it, but that would be cowardly so I'm going to make the hard decision and opt for the second game.

First, Geelong. Even in the decidedly ordinary collection of wins we've had since 2010 there's no shame in being second best, and this was a brilliant night. Despite Ticketek falling apart like an Indonesian airplane earlier in the week we contributed a minimum of 70% of the most overwhelmingly pro-MFC blockbuster crowd since the 1987 Semi vs Sydney, and true belivers united with bandwagoners to go right off their nut.

After 11 seasons of pain and suffering, and nearly stuffing this season up after thumping teams left, right and centre earlier in the year, the anticipation level was off the charts before the bounce. I nearly painted the Ponsford with a massive vom before the bounce. After absorbing a few minutes of pressure we countered with a vengeance rarely seen against good clubs. Especially against Geelong, who had spent most of the previous decade ripping the piss out of us, most recently with that after the siren goal at Kardinia Park a few weeks earlier.

Five goals to nil by quarter time meant that at least if we were to lose it would give us something to moan about for years to come. By the time Weideman had his second I was legitimately sitting there mouth agape, in complete shock as to what I'd just seen. Realistically there was no way we were going to lose from there, but I've seen us throw bigger leads against worse teams so wasn't going to get excited just yet.

That we only kicked one goal in the next two quarters and let them get to within 17 points shouldn't detract from the overall joy of the evening, including Joel Selwood giving away a needless - some might say unlucky - free off the ball that cost them a red hot chance on goal.

Though they'd only kicked three goals to the last change, almost unbelievable for those of us who were there that fateful afternoon at Kardinia Park, I couldn't trust a 23 point lead. Then less than a minute in Nathan Jones, the friendly face of a decade of disaster, smashed through a steadier that caused the place to become unglued. They got a goal to make it interesting, before Mitch Hannan (remember him?) did his big run for the acknowledged sealer. Piss off to the GWS and their big big sound, that was the loudest thing I've ever heard at a footy game. There was half a quarter to play and we were barely any further in front than we had been 15 minutes earlier but you just knew there was no coming back.

I was so excited that I took a wrong turn driving home, ended up in the country, and didn't get to bed until about 4am but had no complaints. We were free to wallow in the glory of being a finals winning side, and to dream of the off-possibility of rumbling Hawthorn seven days later...

... which we did, in front of another crowd that was so overwhelmingly pro-Demon that for one night nobody could accuse us of being tally-ho shouting cravat wearing ponces. The decade peaked here, and even though it lacked the single swashbuckling period of the first game, Selwood making an arsehole of himself, or one shining Hannan-esque moment, I loved it more because it was hard fought. Not heart attack worthy, but the satisfaction of working hard to build a workable lead before going off our nut late in the third quarter and opening a five goal gap.

That should have been the end of it, but you don't get anything easily around here (see for instance - 2019), and for the first 11 minutes of the last quarter Hawthorn threatened the great comeback. Three goals to nothing, the margin was back to 12 points, and my bunghole was clenching like the jaw of a rabies addled dog.

Then, a moment of pure ecstasy that was great even before you heard BT's career peak with the "GEE GOD BOY WOW" commentary on replay. Melksham instantly replied out of the middle, everything was steady again, and we were shocked out of our lethargy to pile on another two decisive goals.

As the sealer went through I made the snap decision to go to Perth, trying hard to book a flight on a mobile phone with hands shaking all over the place. Via all this I looked up to see Spargo kick the last goal and the place came unglued again. It was bloody magnificent, and the reason I rank it higher than Geelong was because of what it meant. We were one win away from a Grand Final, and though it would take a trip to the other side of the country to get there, we had a ticket in the lottery. That ticket turned out to be fraudulent, but winning here set up eight days of dreaming that the next time we walked into the MCG it would be for a Grand Final.

Fans of successful clubs will fall about laughing at the idea of a winning Semi Final sparking such joy, but the looks on the faces of the fans as I left the ground that night almost (almost) made the years of vicious poundings and humiliations worthwhile. It doesn't matter what happened the next week, though the following year was a bit of a concern, this was the peak of our existence for the 21st century.

Thank you all for your custom in the 2010s, we go again for Demonblog's third decade (!!!!) from 2010.

1 comment:

Crack the sads here... (to keep out nuffies, comments will show after approval by the Demonblog ARC)