Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Be still cat

The views of Bad Boy Bubby do not represent that of Demonblog.com or the Melbourne Football Club. No animals were hurt in the making of this post except Geelong.

When he met a youngster with ambitions to be an astronaut, the late Prince Philip allegedly said "you'll have to lose some weight". Were he introduced to the finals aspirant Melbourne Football Club, he might have said "you'll have to beat some good teams." 

We may not be there, but we're closer than ever. After three weeks of satisfying but questionable wins over the mediocre and inconsistent we have, in a way, gone one better. The "Who have they beaten?" faction, of which I consider myself an associate member, will point out that Geelong had already lost fair and square to Adelaide, got out of jail against Brisbane via an all-time umpire squib, barely beat Hawthorn and were without Dangerfield and Cameron. This is all true, but reputations still count for something so I'm warmly embracing our win.

Naturally, after so much hurt over the years, the first thought after the siren was how we were going to find a way to lose to Hawthorn next week, but if - unlike me - you could take a minute to savour the present before catastrophising the future, this was a very good win. Certainly a better result than the last time we were involved in major administrative change on the same day as a match against the Cats. The President is gone (long live the President), but whoever was officially in charge at 6pm Sunday afternoon fared 211 points better than poor old Don McLardy a decade ago. More coup chat later, we've got important 'Melbourne winning games' content to get through first.

This was another of the many games I'm going to miss seeing live this year, but stuffed it I won't find a way to watch. Even when my body gives way and I'm strapped into an iron lung I'll be insisting that they prop a screen over my head when Melbourne games are on. Just my luck we'll be five goals clear in a Grand Final and the TV will fall on my head. 

By the standards of the Big Wank about footy being good again (scoring currently .1 per team higher than 2018), the St Kilda game probably had more appeal to neutrals and broadcasters, but I felt much worse about missing this one. It was an impressive win against a side half full of champions (and to be fair, half full of randoms), where we built a lead, withstood a comeback, and came back to win comfortably. You didn't have to be there to enjoy it but I expect it would have added to the experience. Then again, unlike most of the MCG crowd I had a roof over my head, so it wasn't all bad news.

Now that the points are in the bank I can question why I was so worried about Geelong. Obviously the answer was 'because Melbourne are playing', but if I'd bothered to study Geelong's lineup it would have been obvious that half of them didn't deserve to contribute to the fearsome reputation the Cats have built up over the years. For instance, who knew until today that there was a second Guthrie? Apparently, he's been playing for five years and - surprise, surprise - had the game of his life against us in Round 1, 2018. Can't remember, too busy replaying Gawn's kick to win the game over and over in my head.

The only problem with writing them off based on fielding a bunch of people you've never heard of is that, as we're just starting to learn, having a few superstars can make up for shortcomings elsewhere. So the likes of Selwood, Hawkins, and Isaac Smith still remained every possible chance of dicking us. And who would bet against another debacle on the same level as the Zac Tuohy goal after the siren?  

Another reason for concern was our last start against the Cats, where they merrily played dinky keepings off football that restricted us to three goals in the first three quarters. That we almost won that day is still bizarre (would have officially been declared PISS FUNNY if we'd snatched it), but if that's what they did to us when players could still move on the mark who knew what Chris Scott had planned here? Who knows what he's up to full stop, especially now that he's looking like a cult leader. 

Channel 7 would have hoped for more from their big Sunday game, but it should have been obvious to anyone that this wasn't going to be an instant classic. Mostly due to not being played under a roof, it never threatened to be a repeat of that Footscray/Eagles game that everyone cranked it over a few weeks ago. We still lack the forwards to take advantage of the alleged return of the key forward - though in reality teams are averaging all of 0.1 more points per game than 2018 - and Scott tried to further restrict our scoring power by Clayton Oliver into the ground GWS style. That didn't work. 

We've gotten away with it somehow, but most teams are going to struggle when they lose one of their key forwards, so with Jeremy Cameron still crocked, Geelong's hopes of any half-decent score rested on either a) Tom Hawkins playing a blinder, or b) somebody you've never heard of being elevated to the Kingsleys. Hawkins holds a better record against us than any other club, nearly three goals a game, but for most of that time he hasn't had to put up with the attention of Steven May. It took him a while to find a way to combat that threat yesterday, but when he still only finished with two goals from nine the Cats had no viable path to victory.

Perhaps psychically aware that he was about to be assassinated, May looked uncharacteristically nervous early. He took two belting intercept marks but flubbed both kicks straight to the opposition. We got away with it because, for now, we had several defenders operating at their best, while Geelong had one forward target who must have been wondering when one of his teammates was going to have a crack.

The 'tag Oliver' campaign came unstuck almost immediately. It was his kick to the top of the square that allowed Jackson to effectively drop a mark into Petracca's hands as he ran past. Truck kicked the easy goal, then told his opponent all about it without breaking stride. No Melbourne player has deserved to be that arrogant for years, it's a lovely sight. It might have come back to haunt him, but given that at the moment he thinks he's unstoppable and actually is, everything kept coming up Christian. 36 disposals later we had confirmation, as if you needed it, that he is an unstoppable force.

May is in such hot form that even when his bad kicks came off, one that was half-smothered bounced straight to Oliver (tag not pictured) to go inside 50 again. Spargo may never be a superstar, but if you were playing some bullshit AFL video game he would have a tremendous 'vision' rating, because he has an amazing knack for finding teammates standing in obscure spots. Here he took advantage of the man on the mark being stuck in place to run around and pull a sideways kick to Viney, standing in a mile of space. Jack missed, but the construction was a thing of beauty.

This was all part of a hot but inaccurate start, one of three behinds surrounding the unmissable Petracca goal. We couldn't go on like that forever, and eventually conceded the reply to crazy name, crazy haircut Gryan Miers, who took time out from looking like he should be graffiting trains to kick one on the run. That was about the only way they were going to get them unless one of our best defenders did himself a mischief.

Everything BT has ever said except "GEE! GOD! BOY! WOW!" is rubbish, but his fact of the day, that Nathan Jones has never spent one single week of his 298 game career on top of the ladder did make me think about the trauma we've inflicted on Jones. I don't think the statue is going to get up, but we still have to clutch him to our collective bosom when he retires. The last couple of years have been varying degrees of rough but he is a first-ballot nominee, alongside Robbie Flower, to the MFC Commitment Hall of Fame.

Now he's an absolute certainty to play 300, and presumably a few more, giving us extra motivation to beat Hawthorn next week. Imagine going into a holiday (eve) blockbuster against the defending premier unbeaten after five, and with the most popular figure of the last 15 years reaching one of the great milestones. Forget the government returning stadium capacities to 100%, the MCG should bring in temporary seating if that happens. Knowing our luck, COVID will seep out of the hotels just in time for the game to be played behind closed doors.

Maybe Bayley Fritsch was paying respect to the legend when he set up Jones for the second goal. More likely somebody had a word to him during the week (and it bet it was the great Choke Yourself With A Tie), about his ordinary record at shots from the boundary and encouraged him to look for options. Against all odds, Bayley's record for shots from Fritschville actually improved by the final siren. 

Considering how we usually play the wet like all our players were involved in childhood nautical traumas I expected a few dropped marks, but for a few minutes balls were flying off chests and hands at a record rate. The man who, thanks to Kelli Underwood's spur of the moment claims will forever be remembered as 'Slick Fritsch' showed his teammates how to do it, taking a mark that was reminiscent of the glory days of Jeremy Howe. Nothing to do with the elevation, just he immediately turned it over.

In a week where scoring plunged back to pre-COVID levels and Gil was forced to arrange a welfare check at Steve Hocking's house, we survived intense DemonTime pressure to get out of the quarter two goals to one up. It ended in slapstick fashion, with Oliver finding himself on the end of a 50 that took him to the middle of the ground after the siren. Made sense that he at least feigned to take it, after all somebody might have had a brain fade and given away the rare double 50. Once that was off the table he made a bit of a kent of himself by trying to recreate Ben Graham's 105 metre kick only to get absolutely none of it, leaving the ball rolling sadly along the turf.

No harm done, boosting your disposal tally always comes in handy for both winning awards and renegotiating contracts. 

It was a promising opening, though we should have had at least one more goal. You can never demand more than that, no matter how well you've played, because you don't know what happens when the ball goes back to the middle after the first one, but considering Gawn was unbeatable, Petracca untacklable and Oliver untaggable, I'm sure we'd have had it forward again before long. Having survived his first game at Casey, Ben Brown must have been rubbing his hands together in glee at the prospect of getting involved. No pressure or anything but we have been waiting since 1897 for somebody to kick the ton...

For everything that had gone right we weren't far enough in front to be comfortable, and I almost rage quit the game, the season, and my commitment to Australian rules football when May emerged from a contest with Hawkins suffering what looked like a severe case of death. Turns out he'd been caught by an errant elbow in a tackle which had quite frankly, fucked him right up. I felt a bit better once we knew he hadn't done a knee or broken his neck, but he was still left staggering off the ground and straight into an ambulance, with blood pissing from his eye.

The elbow wasn't aimed to hit May in the face, but it also wasn't a necessary thing to do, making it a test case for whether we're still more worried about the consequence than the action. If Dangerfield got three weeks for clubbing somebody out of the game via a bump that was deemed careless, severe impact, high contact this couldn't be far off. But apparently it was, and he got away scot free. I'm not calling for him to crucified out the front of AFL House but you can't just go around swinging elbows and plead accident when one connects.

While Brisbane fans were probably thrilled to see him go down as if hit with a billiard ball in a sock, the commentators didn't notice for about 30 seconds. I take it they're calling the game off the TV like Foxtel. It's the only way you could have missed him lying on the ground for so long. Hawkins went over to apologise, shame the victim couldn't see him due to his fractured eye socket. At least he said sorry for brutalising May, unlike the All-Australian selectors.

After three weeks when Chandler, Baker and Melksham had more chance of getting a blood clot sitting on their arse than from the AstraZeneca vaccine, we became the last club in the competition to use a medical sub. Hardly the ideal circumstances but unlike the other three, Tom Sparrow earned the game he's now credited with. Looking for any excuse as to why we'd lose, I was more concerned by losing our best defender just as we were about to keep Geelong to a Laws of the Game committee killing 4.4.28. Now we had a backline consisting of two talls who have played well this year but you wouldn't trust in one-on-one contests. Turned out alright.

There's no need for a specific media watch segment when BT is calling a game because he'll just talk through his ringpiece all the game, but I enjoyed (as much as possible under the circumstances) his Dr. Dickhead updates on whether May had been ruled out. "We've just heard that Sparrow has come on so there may be a ruling," he cried, as if Sparrow might have just decided to seize the opportunity to activate (*spew*) himself. Soon after, this most unusual fellow described the state of the game like a "bag of sand hanging in the sky", ready to "be split wide open", causing the sand to "spill everywhere". No wonder the mad bastard didn't ponder if one horse-sized duck could beat 100 duck-sized horses. You almost have to admire how he gets paid several dozen times the average national wage to do something he's so bad at.

At first, when the injury report just listed May's condition as purely 'eye' I thought we might be able to fiddle the books and play him next week without having to wait out the 12 day concussion countdown. Once his enormously blown up eye was found to be covering a fractured socket it was confirmed that he'll be out for a month. Confirmation that he was concussed also not great, this being his second in a few weeks. That used to be par for the course for most players, but these days it's almost the trigger to donate your brain to science. On a positive note, if he comes back wearing a helmet it would be the funniest visual since Jason Dunstall did it. Possibly going one step further by wearing a pirate style eye-patch.

May was gone, but still in our favour were conditions that didn't favour talls, Geelong's one-dimensional attack, and Chris Scott's willingness to turn the game into trench warfare even though the best ruckman in the game and one of the better midfielders were giving his lot a bath.

I might have been flying the flag at half-mast for the loss of a key player, but if there was anything that was going to lift the spirits of Melbourne fans again it was Joel Selwood having a whinge after Spargo won a free by ducking into his tackle. Sadly Charleston missed his kick and the chance to rub it in even further. Noticeably, Selwood failed to display the same moral objections when he milked one in similar circumstances a few minutes later.

Tomlinson has vastly exceeded expectations as a defender, but conceding a free to Hawkins at their first meeting left me nervously adjusting my collar at the prospect of another big bag. If mediocre forwards can do it, the good ones are going to join in at some stage. He missed but it still didn't bode well. Instead, some guy with the sort of mullet that you should see you sent to a penal colony got away with dropping a mark, before narrowly sneaking his kick through against a fierce sideways breeze. 

After spending almost two full quarters on top without landing a knockout blow, it was wasteful for the margin to be back under two goals. We didn't have anyone else to blame for not taking better advantage, but looking back from the safety of having won, there was a bit of 2018 Elimination Final about it. That night we jumped to a far greater lead, courtesy of their zero impact forward line torching multiple early chances, but that night their mid-game comeback was also thwarted by a lack of potency.

The steadying influence came from Lachie Henderson, who went into full "you can take the boy out of Carlton..." mode by needlessly pushing Fritsch over after a mark, conceding a 50 that moved the kick from a questionable position in the 3131 district to the square. If Brad Scott was moved to call Brisbane players [censored on legal advice] a few weeks earlier, he'd have had 'words' for Henderson after this. Even more so when Fritsch got another straight out of the middle. It was another delightfully constructed goal, starting with a masterful tap from Gawn into the path of Petracca and Oliver, and a delightful gather by Pickett at half-forward. I love this shit.

While Channel 7 resisted the urge to join the Slick Fritsch phenomenon, there was an on-screen graphic advertising McDonalds (the 'restaurant', not the brothers) advising us that he was 'On The Fritsch'. His named has been misused so much in the last couple of weeks that he may as well change it to Trengove.

We were temporarily back on top, until Geelong got going again via what was deemed a dangerous tackle by Jetta. On the scale of 0 to Neal-Bullen bouncing the Adelaide bloke off the ground like a basketball last year, it was barely a 1 but still cost him $2000. Like the government putting a speed camera in a 40 zone, this must be how the AFL is getting their finances back on track. People love the pub test, and it doesn't pass that Nifty is writing a cheque (and how do they pay the fines? Do you get a penalty notice in the mail?) two grand more expensive than what Hawkins paid for throwing elbows in the vicinity of an opponent's face. 

As the free was being paid, Lever went ballistic in a way that made that it sound like he was about to assault the umpire Phil Carman style. The ump was so concerned for his safety that he had to repeatedly assure Jake that he hadn't done anything wrong. Turns out he was talking to his teammates, and rightly so. He was very good in the absence of May. They don't play anything near the same role but he did well cutting off promising attacks and marshalling his teammates. Nobody who looks like the 13th Duke of Wimborne should be allowed near a club leadership group, even at a traditionally poncy club like Melbourne, but he could force his way in despite the ludicrous bumfluff. 

The Jetta free not only stopped us storming forward with free players everywhere, it kicked off a period where the rules of deliberate out of bounds and holding the ball were not applied to Geelong. Remember when you used to play Daytona USA in the arcade and it would artificially make you go faster if you were too far behind the leader? I think the same technology was on trial here. 

After two minutes of this nonsense we responded in the least Melbourne way possible, kicking the ultimate Reverse DemonTime goal. With 10 seconds left the ball was thumped inside 50, and as players flung it around trying to find somebody with the space to take a shot, I was panicking that they'd run out of time and we'd come up scoreless. Enter spelunking legend Christian Petracca, who barged through so forcefully that the defenders backed off and smacked it through right on the siren. Our salary cap is full now, imagine what it's going to look like when we've got to re-sign him in a couple of years? I predict the buzzword 'godfather offer' will be used liberally (even though 90% of players linked to one recent have found it was an offer they could refuse), North will offer him $4 million a year, and that no matter who he ends up playing for it won't be them.

That goal made the margin 23 points, prompting Oliver to give Joel Selwood a celebratory shove. He adopted an air of "don't you know who I am?" and wandered around for a few seconds looking for somebody to argue with. I'm sure they'd heard of him but didn't seem to care. Whether they've got the right to be up themselves at this stage is questionable, but I still like to know there's no fear left from big names. Personally, I've never been as worried about famous players as much as the nobodies who bob up and wreck us.

Things started to get a bit ridiculous when Pickett crumbed the bejesus out of a Fritsch contest for another just after half time. Melbourne Classic re-emerged when we battled to give it back as fast as possible, Gawn clotheslined a sliding Selwood in the middle, and while he was trapped on the mark Rhys Stanley took the opportunity to sneak forward and mark for a goal. It made up ever so slightly for the hands-down battering he'd endured from Maximum since the first bounce.

But as things were going reasonably well for us, the Anal-Bullet quickly pulled the goal back. Whether he plucked the ball out of Pickett's hand mid-tackle a few seconds earlier or it was thrown to him was of no concern to the umpire. Based on the first half even if they'd been standing over the contest it would have been called play on.

We haven't had it easy once this season, and it got complicated again here. After five minutes of stalemate Geelong finally came to life, kicking three of the next four. Isaac Smith got two, which is coincidentally also many years are left on his contract with Geelong. Not to detract from him still being a handy player but thank christ he didn't take the three years we were offering him. I'm still scarred from the law of diminishing returns with Lewis and can't imagine he'd have been cheap, which would have left us in even more of a financial squeeze in a couple of years. No doubt he'll prove me wrong with a best on ground, 40 touch, seven goal performance that puts us out of the finals in Round 23.

The second of their goals was born from Viney setting Sparrow up with a hospital handball, but it was one of his few errors. Like his dad he's missed the boat on winning Brownlows and being a media darling but is such an important part of our lineup. Imagine how shit it would have been if he were playing on the other side? Helps when good players develop around you rather than being expected to carry the place on your own shoulders. Nathan Jones must be a bit upset at being a couple of years too early to enjoy the same benefit.

My buttocks were clenching at a rapid rate when Gawn added the arsiest captain's goal of all time to his stoppage domination, hoisting a hopeful long bomb towards the square, where Jackson contested enough to allow the ball to roll through untouched. I thought that might have been good enough to get us to three quarter time with the lead intact, before Salem was blocked a mile off the ball to set up Smith's second.

Having been five goals up midway through the quarter, we were now just 12 points up at the last change. No worries as it turns out, but at the time I was reaching for the brown undies. An early goal was much appreciated. It also had a bit of novelty about it, with the Geelong player rushing the ball out of bounds instead of through the points and being rolled for deliberate. As much as I'm an advocate for letting people rush behinds openly - especially now that it's never been easier to clear the ball out of defence - and think the bar for a deliberate should be much higher, but this was just blatant. Hamish McLachlan tried to be nice and suggest he'd missed rushing a point because it was a wet ball, but from the look on his face he knew he'd stuffed up.  

Lovely Ed Langdon, who comes across as the world's nicest man, had to contend with pelting rain and three Geelong players sprinting at him like an NFL defensive line but still converted. A certain commentator was momentarily confused about whether the kick was to cut the gap to six or extend it to 18. The red and blue player kicking for the red and blue team that was leading 63-51 was clearly not enough of a clue.

Runner Shannon Byrnes was so happy about this that he dropped any pretence of being on the field to give messages and joined the world's nicest man for a hug. Bit early to get this excited but if they're happy I'm happy.

Now, with heavy rain coming down I was happy just to waste as much time as possible. Can't tell you how upset I'd have been at them forcing me to sit in the wet when Row MM was empty.

Bayley Fritsch does not worry about small things such as rain. His aerodynamic hairdo remained upright through four quarters, and he even kicked one from the spot he's made famous with his misses to give us further breathing space. Turns out this was the fatal blow, but I was not yet ready to declare victory. On the other hand, Chris Scott looked like he was about to rip open a vat of cyanide and end it all.

We ran 10 vital minutes off the clock without conceding but that doesn't mean I wasn't still sweating up profusely when Hawkins - after being fixed up by Tomlinson for most of the half - finally had one land perfectly to soccer through from the square. 

In comparison to that final this lacked about 60,000 people and 85% of the frenzy, but did feature the continuing adventures of Melbourne players treating Joel Selwood with disrespect. There's never been a better time to remember Sam Frost (who we could now do with courtesy of Damien Hardwick's bonkers player loan scheme, which surely nobody takes seriously and.. oh shit) telling him this...

... the contemporary version was Pickett flattering him in a tackle then offering maximum verbal abuse. Selwood has won as many premierships as Melbourne since 1959, but what does a 19-year-old care? Imagine how much angrier he'd been if he was old enough to be subjected to that shithouse ad with Joel and a taxi driver in every bloody ad break for two years?

I've got nothing personal against Geelong, even considering some of the demolition jobs they've done on us over the years, but it would be nice if they suffered for a while. Since I've been alive they've never won less than seven games in a season. I know life is about winners and losers but it would help their fans develop some perspective lost since winning multiple flags and seeing more investment in their home ground than some other parts of regional Victoria combined. Writing them off is risky, but nice to see them under a bit of pressure for once. 

Pickett's tackle led directly to the goal that really did put it away, with Spargo, Oliver and Melksham doing a bit of "you first sir, no you first sir" before the Milkshake finally booted it as high as he possibly could from a metre out. And that was, pretty much, it. Instead of security guards ringing the ground for the last few minutes they should have sent out garbagemen, because interest across the board dropped to none. We knew we were going to win, so did they, everyone just wanted to get it over with and move on to next week.

And, confounding pre-season predictions that Adem Yze would be our senior coach by now, our first 4-0 start since 1994 was complete. It wasn't quite as exciting as the milestone game that year, which featured Allen Jakovich single-handedly outscoring the Brisbane Bears by 10 points, but when something hasn't happened for 27 years you're dutybound to appreciate it no matter what the circumstances. If you want to be pedantic and refuse to accept the 1994 edition because there was a bye in the middle you'll have to go back to 1990, when we won the first five then did a Melbourne and lost to a 1-4 Sydney.

It's all going well. Maybe a bit too well, but doesn't mean you can't enjoy it. At the same time, I don't want to hear anything about the statistical unlikelihood of missing the finals from this position. We are prone to mysterious dips in form, so if anyone can cock it up from here it's us. Even '94 required a last round win just to finish 7th. I'd love to issue an earth-shattering statement by thrashing somebody, beating a confirmed top four team, or preferably both, but compared to where I thought we would be at this stage I reserve the right to just be satisfied with what we've got..

2021 Allen Jakovich Medal votes
5 - Christian Petracca
4 - Max Gawn
3 - Clayton Oliver
2 - Jake Lever
1 - Bayley Fritsch

Serious apologies to Langdon and Viney. Normal level apologies to Brayshaw, McDonald, Pickett, Tomlinson, Salem and Hunt.

11 - Clayton Oliver
9 - Max Gawn (LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
8 - Christian Petracca
7 - Kysaiah Pickett
6 - Jake Lever (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
5 - Steven May, Christian Salem
3 - Ed Langdon,
2 - Jayden Hunt, Adam Tomlinson
1 - Bayley Fritsch, Charlie Spargo

Aaron Davey Medal for Goal of the Year
After a couple of weeks of Pickett doing Pickett things, he settled down and just kicked a bog ordinary snap this week, without any fancy steps or backwards running. I'm going to recognise the player who exceeded expectations the most by awarding the weekly prize to Fritsch for the goal in the last quarter. Given the conditions and the state of the game it was a great time to find his range. Like Pickett a few weeks ago, he wins a truckload of hair products to keep his impressive barnet going. Kysaiah remains the clubhouse leader for the St Kilda goal.  

There are some commentators who you secretly enjoy hearing talk shite. Not BT or Dwayne, where the bad drastically outweighs the good, but I secretly love hearing Eddie shoehorn in unnecessary Collingwood references, or Derm going off onto odd tangents that make him sound like he's having a stroke.

The rising star of this world is Jobe Watson, who obviously knows everything about footy - except when it comes to declining mystery injections - but could do with a couple of years honing his special comments craft in the VFL because he's well out of his depth at the moment. Thrillingly, on Friday night he wanted to said something was Sydney's 'standis operatis', when he meant 'modus operandi', so when I saw him doing our game hopes were high for a repeat. Sadly he must have left his Pig Latin phrasebook at home, because his role was reduced to fluffing for 'expert commentator' Nic Natanui, who didn't say a word unless he was specifically asked a question.

Orderly transfer of power watch
Strange how these things work. One week you mention JFK, the next you lose a president. With about 16 hours notice, Glenn Bartlett ended his term as our 21st president with slightly more dignity than POTUS 35, but not without some controversy. 

I thought he might have quit on a 3-0 start just so he could technically go out as an unbeaten president, but because we can't have the slightest bit of success without self-destructive urges kicking in, his departure reportedly involves falling out with the board, and interestingly Simon Goodwin, who has obviously firmed up his position from three weeks ago when he was halfway down the Green Mile. There are forum posts that hint at some sort of scandal but you can find them yourself, I'm not brave enough to annoy a lawyer. He is staying on the board, which suggests he hasn't exactly been caught running guns to Nairobi.

While Bartlett's reign can't be called an unqualified success due to only playing finals once and not delivering the famous training venue, he can point to a more stable financial position than any time since we were the 'rich' ones in the Hawthorn merger. Seems a lot of that is riding on the value of the Bentleigh Club land but no matter what voodoo economics are at work, the heat is certainly off us in the backwards race to be the next defunct Victorian side. 

He was involved in the odd fiasco, like the New York Yankees fiasco, but while he didn't inspire you to take up weapons and fight, his tenure ends with the club in a far better state than many of his predecessors. 

Taking the poison chalice is Kate Roffey, who must have seen nearly everything there is to see after serving on our board since 2013. People who think you can't do anything of importance without a knob will probably complain, but it's telling that she has previous experience working on one of the last 27 rebuilds of Melbourne Park. If all else goes wrong, and she can't convince her tennis friends to bulldoze show court 54 and let us build there, it's time to go for Plan B, white-ant North out of Victoria so and steal Arden Street.

Next Week
A decidedly average Hawthorn in a game I can go to. What could possibly etc...? Like Chris Scott, outside of a couple of random wins and one glorious finals campaign, Clarko has had us on a leash for years. It took until last year, when they had the highest number of unknowns in their side since the Josh Thurgood era, for us to finally treat them with contempt. I don't think they're any better now but am still on high alert for an earth-shattering letdown and not taking anything for granted.

After years of complaining about the time they played Viney and Jones in Round 1 off the back of one VFL practice match, I'm happy to include Ben Brown off the back of one VFL practice match. Aside from having the longest run-up since Cliff Young, he shouldn't have too many conditioning issues as a forward.

Brace for a Kingsley style performance, but given that Hawthorn's forward line is bereft of talls do we even need to replace May? I know Goodwin would rather die than play McDonald in defence, but what about starting him forward, then swinging him down there if required? Gawn can look after McEvoy when he goes forward, and we can see if having another tall next to him helps McDonald get some goals. If not the Weid is looming, where we'll be able to boost his value before he requests a trade to Collingwood at the end of the year.

I thought Sparrow did well when he came on, so he can swap as the sub with Jordon and Double J can put the feet up for a week. My controversial plan to go with Lever/Tomlinson and hope for the best is bad news for Petty. He was reportedly safe as houses in the VFL last week but if you can't just play a raft of tall defenders if not required because they're there. Maybe go for something in the middle and pick Hibberd?

Anyway, no matter who we pick and how good our start has been I reserve the right to sook up in Selwood fashion if we don't win. Suddenly expectations are sky high and my nerves are shredding at a million miles an hour. 

IN: B. Brown. Sparrow
OUT: May (inj), Jordon (to the sub)
LUCKY: Melksham
UNLUCKY: Hibberd, Petty, Sparrow

Self-indulgent content updates section
In retrospect, if I was going to write a TL:DR review of an old game I probably should have chosen something from 1994. Instead, fast-forward 10 years to another season when we were half decent but went home empty-handed, and enjoy this look back at walloping Carlton in 2004. Featuring Cameron Bruce running riot, Tipstar losing millions, and Fev with a haircut that looks sensible in comparison to old fictional first name Gryan.

Final Thoughts
Half the country is talking us up so they can pour shit later for 'getting ahead' of ourselves, the rest refuse to take as seriously because we haven't beaten the Brisbane Lions 2001, 2002 and 2003 premiership sides in consecutive weeks. Nobody can honestly say they know which way this is going, so for now I'm content to lie back and think of September.


  1. Great write up. Shouldn't Jake Lever be the current Leader of the Seecamp?

    1. Yes, I pharked this up a treat. Corrected now.

  2. Postcode 3131. Gold Adam.

  3. Our best tackling and pressure game this year. St Kilda's comeback against WCE and GWS' defeat of Collingwood adds credence to our earlier wins.
    The MCG's 75% COVID capacity rule is meaningless when large sections of the grandstands are closed. When the rain came spectators huddled closer together implying effective density was >100%.


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