Saturday, 10 July 2021

Uphill skiing d. Downhill skiing

Whatever the historical legacy of Melbourne 2021 turns out to be, you can't say they weren't full of surprises. Sometimes the terrifying 'jumping out of the shadows with a chainsaw' type, but more often than not (so far) the pleasant ones. Like recovering from a loss to an injury-hit, fringe finals side at home before rumbling another premiership contender interstate five days later. If you've got an idea where this strange journey will end you're a step ahead of me. 

Yes, the baby has been hurriedly dropped back into the bath with the water running at full speed. You may now breathe into a red and blue paper bag and use the 'P' word, as long as it's qualified by 'fancies', 'hopefuls', 'prospects' or similar. I still wouldn't book in to get a tattoo done on Monday 27 September, and am still not entirely convinced, but this was the win we needed to restore faith in the possibility of ultimate success.

No doubt by the end of next week I'll be back to white flag waving cowardice and declaring it's all over. For now, we're on the positive side of a condensed version of 1997-2004, when there was no scientific reason for alternating between finals and scraping the bottom of the barrel but it just kept happening. Now we struggle against slurry and beat top sides, crucially completing the set against the rest of the top six, giving us a leg-up in what promises to be a brutal double chance race. The eight point game is a grand old cliche, but almost relevant here. Had we lost to Port there's every chance we'd have finished the weekend fifth, now we've got two games break in fifth and will be no worse than second on percentage by Sunday night. That'll do me.

Given the prospect of slowly sliding down the ladder for the rest of the weekend, I was ill-prepared to watch us play in the worst timeslot since 4.40pm Sunday. My preparation was refusing to accept there was even a game on until about two hours before the bounce. Part of this was fear of defeat. Port are as flaky as us, but they're still chockers with handy players so it could easily have gone either way. A loss wouldn't have been fatal, but it would have reduced our margin of error over the last six weeks.

While the most important storyline of the evening was another defensive strangulation of a finals-bound team, a close second was some of the amazing scenes captured by Channel 7's famous NuffyCam. The people in the front row going troppo made Essendon fans look like a meeting of the County Women's Association. Nobody was pictured nearly tramping children while storming the race, but the sheer volume of people shedding their dignity on national TV shit on anything the Bombers have done since Anzac Day 2019.

Second teams are for the sort of people who'd collaborate during war, but I've got the slightest affinity for Port due to Choke Yourself With A Tie's antics after the 2004 Grand Final. My single visit to Football Park didn't hurt the relationship because nobody was there, and having never met a Port fan in person (not counting the Brent Heaver obsessive from high school - no really - who claimed to follow him from Carlton to Port) there's no reason personal animosity. However, this would change instantly if you put me in any proximity to these people:

Every club has weirdos who sit on the fence and think they're Rodney Dangerfield, but it's quite the gear change to go from pre-match community singing (*spew*) to flying off the handle like Curly hearing Pop Goes The Weasel. These humanoids demonstrated a commitment to the middle finger that hasn't been seen on the eastern seaboard since 1995, and we say thank you for the content.

Thanks to MSDS (that would be your Melbourne Support Depression Syndrome, new readers), I didn't think we were going to win, but acknowledged that the opposition would give us every possible chance. While we take an occasionally suicidal concern for the morale of sides mid-table and lower, Port are guaranteed to fold like a house of cards against anyone with single digit premiership odds. They should switch INXS songs to Wishy Washy.

In the week where Steve Hocking announced he was departing the AFL, the early minutes looked like a fitting tribute to the man whose innovations have set the game alight. 24 hours later the league's other South Australian entrant perfected the going away present, kicking 2.9, dragging average scores below 2019 levels and all but making certain his replacement (who, let's face it, will be acting under the same orders from HQ) introduces some total nonsense like zones at stoppages.

There's an extra level of psychological trauma when you get the exact team changes you want, because you look like a bit of a tit if things go wrong. I still have nightmares over 2012's Free Ricky Petterd campaign ending in him playing the worst game of his life on return. This time the clamour was for Ben Brown, and while Ken Jungwirth retains a share of the record for most goals in #50 for another week, Brown had about as much impact as you could ask for from a full forward who kicked 0.0. It was a fair step down from 10.1 in his last start against the Port. We'd all love a shitload of goals, and he risks the Weid making another run at him if he doesn't get them eventually, but regardless of scoreboard impact I thought he did enough to justify his spot. Either way, you'll never convince that we don't need one or the other in the side. Ultimately I don't care which, but our forward line was demonstrably better than it has been the last three weeks so it's a start.

If like me, your mind is one long chain of interconnected sporting experiences, the sight of Aliir Aliir lining up in defence against us on a Thursday night would have given you warm memories of our last start in this strangest of timeslots. Specifically, the bit where he forgot to contest a boundary throw-in and Braydon Preuss' MFC career peaked with its first kick:

While I was heavily emotionally invested in Brown's return - and nearly shat myself with excitement when he tried to hoof a mid-air ball through from the top of the square - both defences were well on top early. Good news if you appreciate games with a higher value placed on goals, shithouse if you're a broadcaster gagging to play prime time ads.

Speaking of Channel 7, while any commentary box without BT is an improvement, it's a shame that future commentary draft #1 pick Jason Bennett wasn't there. Over the last two Thursday nights he'd contributed to their most sensible calls in living memory, now he was relegated to Kade Chandler style tracksuit duty. I'd like to think he'd have fact-checked the botched tribute to recently deceased ex-President Wayne Reid, who was announced as also playing for us from 1979 to 1981. We can confirm that the 41-year-old Reid was not a suburban footy style playing president, and that they somehow conflated him with Wayne Gordon, who died in 1983.

After 10 minutes of sludge, Port got us going with a criminal turnover, leading to Jackson floating over two defenders who were preoccupied blocking Brown. Which was an early example of the benefit of having him - or any tall the opposition had to take seriously - down there. The rest of Jackson's night was workmanlike, but he is a lot of fun to watch. Freo's dump truck full of cash had to turn around somewhere near Eucla when they needed funding to re-sign Sean Darcy, but West Coast would be mad not to try and pinch him. Suffice to say he shouldn't go anywhere, nobody will appreciate his resemblance to Weird Al Yankovic in UHF as much as I do.

At the other end, Port could only pull goals out of their arse. This is still a perfectly valid way to get them, you just can't rely on it happening 10 times a game. The first might have been set up via a 'handball' propelled by a fresh air swing, but you couldn't argue the quality of the finish, with [insert name of Port player that I didn't bother to learn] changing directions on the boundary line before kicking it over his shoulder. Now that we've got arguably the best defence of my lifetime, expectations are set so high that I even hate conceding opportunistic goals like this but you've got to let a few in or things will get boring.

I couldn't care less if Channel 7 don't get to play AAMI ads, so under the circumstances would have been quite happy to get through the last two minutes and to the break at one goal apiece. It didn't happen, but strangely enough that worked in our favour. Port's goal led directly to two at the other end, which is worth breaking crockery over when we do it but dead-set magic when the shoe is on the other foot. 

It was all about centre clearances, starting with Gawn putting the ball on a platter for Oliver, eventually leading to Spargo being caught high in the pocket. Their fans will whinge about the free but refer to recent comments about getting the ball into a contest near goal and hoping for the best. Charleston's kick was flatter than the proverbial shit carter's hat but just had enough height to go through. Being an extremely conservative footy viewer (e.g. weak of heart) I'd have settled for the same margin that was on offer before their goal. Maximum had other ideas, stuffing the ball into Petracca's hands instead, leading to the almost unseen Double Reverse Demon Time, with Jackson intercepting a handball and sagely waiting for McDonald to steam past and run into an open goal. Fans of plus-size workrate will also note Gawn shepherding him, about 10 seconds after he'd started it all in the middle. What a man.

I'm sure Port has played worse minutes over the years but this was a dreadful finish to the quarter, from a goal up to a goal down against a side that hadn't kicked a decent score for weeks. Port fans with a hate on for Ken Hinkley are welcome to package that 60 second period up and play it on repeat. I found it enjoyable.

These goals were by no means the end of the contest but they certainly helped. The real break came after Port kicked the second quarter opener, only to concede the next four. And what a collection they were, starting with an up the guts rebound inspired by my new BFF Harrison (never Harry) Petty, and ending with McDonald dropping perhaps his greatest ever field kick onto Petracca running into goal. Trac stuffed it home with glee and added to the sour atmosphere by telling the Port cheersquad about it. 

There should be more of it, and to prove I'm not entirely one-eyed, it's ok if opposition players do the same to us. Look at how annoyed I was thinking Steven Coniglio had done a Tom Bugg style shhh in 2018. Turns out it was a soccer celebration, but at the time I went off like an 80s wrestling fan hearing Nikolai Volkoff sing the Russian national anthem. This is why they should hire me to replace Hocking, I know that people don't really want artificial high scoring, they want to get upset by niggle.

The second goal was even better in both development and execution, created by Port shitting themselves at having no way to get out of defence, before Pickett scooped the ball up and kicked it at an extremely high trajectory over a player at full extension. Usually if that sort of thing cleared the prospective smotherer it comes down like a sack of concrete at the top of the square, this time it carried into the front row. I need to see it from different angles, because I've watched the broadcast version several times and still can't understand how it went so high and so far.

My views on selection don't mean anything, but I still feel a moral purity at having backed Pickett in, because he was bloody good. We'll find out next week if it had anything to do with the changed forward line structure, if he was just having an understandable young player slump (and it's not like he hasn't had plenty to deal with off-field this year...), or whether this was a one-off return to form. Whatever the reason, he was electric on the night. Like Jackson, if we can dampen down the go-home factor he's going to give us joy for years to come.

Even May got involved, handed a rare set shot after a 50. The result made me wonder about my theory about him going forward in an emergency last week, but it played its part in a dominant few minutes where a floodgate burst seemed imminent. Port kept it together but turns out the damage was already done. May was also involved in the next one, juggling a flying intercept on the wing to the hoots of the sort of people who'd boo Santa Claus, then shutting them up by regathering and sending the ball forward. This ended in Petracca scooping the ball off the ground under pressure with the greatest of ease and casually snapping one from the pocket. 

Think of all the years where our list was full of honest battlers and good players, without a genuine superstar in sight, then consider how lucky we are at the moment. There's no guarantee of success, but the quality is definitely there. It's one thing seeing bits and pieces of Robbie Flower highlights from an era where half the games weren't on TV, imagine being a grandchild in 2045 and being subjected to eight hour long compilations of Petracca, Oliver, Gawn etc... running riot. Mine will be forced to sit through a super-cut of contested marks and spoils before getting to any of the fun stuff.

It was a good week for quality goals, and after campaigning against Fritsch's Mark of the Year nomination because he missed the kick after, I'll acknowledge that he was absolutely brilliant ins setting up the third. First, by making the sort of aerial contest we'd have been thrashed in last week, then playing on (perhaps he didn't expect to be paid the mark?) and rolling a snap through from long distance. More on the Jeremy Howe Rule later, but give me this over sitting on somebody's shoulders for a point any day of the week. 

While the time in Adelaide was half an hour behind, the footy returned all the way to Round 11. How we can keep Footscray and Port at arms' length but lose to Collingwood remains a mystery. Ultimately if you're going to win one and lose the other you get more value from beating a top side than a bottom one, but it still makes no sense. I'm not banking anything across the next fortnight, but if we don't comfortably beat both Hawthorn and Gold Coast you have to wonder what's going on. I know we won't see them, Adelaide or Collingwood in the finals but it's still baffling.

If we keep playing this against top sides you can have your 9th-18th and we'll just romp through Septemnber. When we followed the Fritsch goal by bursting out of the middle for Petracca to have another shot my face looked like this. Our luck temporarily ran out and he missed, but the tone of the evening was very much in our favour.

Starved of opportunities to kick real goals, Port had to reach deep in the novelty file for the settler. Earlier this year I was mystified to discover ex-Gold Coast superboot Trent McKenzie was still on an AFL list. You may as well have told me Craig Bird and Brent Le Cras were still around. Having not played against us since Round 1, 2015, you could be forgiven for forgetting him, but like Brad Green trying out for Manchester United, you'll always know the fun fact about him kicking like an incontinental ballistic missile. Out of ideas on how to get past our defence it was left to him to heave an absolute bomb through from 60 metres out. 

You never like to concede, but sometimes when there's absolutely nothing that can be done to stop it (for example, see this this recently unearthed goal from 2015, which is almost the best I've ever seen kicked against us), you've just got to cop it. Tell that to Jobe Watson (who is getting better but could still do a a few weeks developing his special comments in the VFL), who wanted to assign blame, saying "Jackson hasn't watched videos of McKenzie because that's what he does", only to suffer one of the greatest torchings from a teammate in TV history when a straight-faced Hamish McLachlan pointed out about 10 seconds later that McKenzie hadn't kicked a goal since 2015. I'll forgive Jacko for this lapse in research given that he was 13-years-old the last time Trent landed one.

If Port fans ever had a reason to get upset, it was about the next goal. Like Spargo's free, the 50 for tackling Pickett after his mark might technically have been there but still felt fortunate. I know Fritsch had just given one away under similar circumstances but this was a little more subtle. Considering what we were subjected to at that end of the ground six weeks ago I wasn't going to ring AFL House and plead for them to overturn the decision. 

The best bit about it was Pickett having absolutely no idea he was going to get 50. It was the umpiring equivalent of throwing him a surprise party. "It's a big price to pay!" commentators always scream, as if there should be any thought given to where the ball will end up when applying the rules. I think there should be a 25 metre penalty for administrative slip-ups like not standing the mark at the correct angle, but that wouldn't have saved Port here. We got a goal and it annoyed the home fans, so a win all round.

This time we couldn't defend through the last minute, but unlike them in the opening quarter restricted the damage to one goal and one behind. After a half playing like he was back at Gold Coast 2011 alongside McKenzie, May and Harmeichal, Charlie Dixon got lucky right on the siren when a tackle from his fellow Suns escapee lingered a second too long after he'd lost the ball. You could make an argument that he was swinging his foot at the ball while May was bringing him to ground but good luck getting an umpire to factor that in with 0.1 seconds to make a decision. Like goal reviews, I'm rather wear a few incorrect decisions than introduce any more opportunities to stop the game for replays. It was an unwelcome goal literally on the stroke of half time but not worth waving the middle digit over.

Despite that, things were going reasonably well. Until we let in the opening goal of the third quarter. It took them two goes, and like the Fritsch scenario last week, the goal came from a perfectly normal and sensible mark, while the miss was from a screamer that will be replayed all week but was ultimately worth 1/6th of the other. I'll happily be declared as a boring killjoy, but you can stand on somebody's head (or in this case knee Max Gawn in the back of his), do a full flip, land on your feet and sing Nessun Dorma but it'll never be as good as any bog-standard mark that contributes to or stops a goal. 

Things were getting a bit nervy. I thought it was a bit premature for the commentators to talk about how we'd almost reached our recent average score by half time, because we're always in danger of losing our way up front. And indeed we did for about 20 minutes, before the screamer bloke got another, prompting us to immediately barrel out of the centre, with the Anal-Bullet seeing McDonald leading at him like Tony Lockett.

On a night where everyone wanted to have their say, nobody likes on-field chat more than the Sizzle. He was in his element, almost jumping up and down on the spot to protest a free for an opponent falling into his legs, starting the loosest definition of a 'fight' with the opposition, and earlier, interrupting his goalkicking routing to discuss the degree of difficulty with a fan. Given the behaviour of some of the fence-people it's nice to know that he found somebody sensible to interact with, and their discussion was conducted in the best possible taste. By the initial embarrassed reaction of the girl, I was worried Tom had channelled Ric Flair and made an indecent suggestion to her.

The setup was there for a repeat of his post-goal chat with the Sydney fan but alas he missed. The second one was straight down the middle, leaving him too far away from the people for a chat. This time his kick was flawless, and came at a crucial time, when Port had the margin into single digits with less than five minutes left. If shaky confidence let to that weird around the corner kick last week (though I still think it may have been a reaction to the cross-wind), this should have banished any self-doubt.

For the second time to that end of the ground, Port had us on the ropes late in the quarter and blew it. To be fair they were unlucky to concede the zaniest goal of the season. It was that man McDonald again, first paid a rare deliberate at Adelaide Oval, ("under pressure" says McLachlan as it was handballed directly over the line), then stuffing up an attempt to run around the man on the mark, regathering the smothered ball via a pair of Fritsch fumbles, holding it at arm's length to stay in play (or near enough to for a spectacle loving boundary umpire) and curling through a snap. So much curl.

Obviously the good bit doesn't happen without the initial blunder (remember when the 'stand' rule hadn't been discredited yet and he ran about 20 metres around the man on the mark from a similar spot?), but the recovery and finish were A+.

That left us a 22 point lead to defend. It didn't help my nerves to learn that Port has never overturned a three quarter time margin of more than 21. Given that they've been around for 25 years, their list of record comebacks is putrid. They didn't go close to overturning their record, but not until I'd spent the last break quietly shitting bricks at the prospect of being lured into a crowd-pleasing, season-starting comeback.

Unlike me, our players and coaches are not scarred by 30 something years of comical defeats. Only Gawn, McDonald and Viney played under Neeld or Bailey, and half the rest probably haven't heard of either. If anything they were more likely to be spooked by memories of the great deliberate squib of Round 10. You'd like to think that with a different set of umpires it would have been paid this time, but can you ever be certain?

Unlike the first trip to Adelaide, we'd defended so well all night that the idea of giving up the equivalent of four unanswered goals was fanciful. In reality it was, but that didn't I still greeted every stoppage for the first few minutes by looking at the clock to confirm how much time had been wasted. 

Port's futile attempt at breaking into our defence was not to kick better to the existing targets, but to get a new one. Like a baseballer playing all nine positions in one game, Aliir was called on to play as a "how could things get any worse?" forward. That didn't work. He can take a mark, but so can all the other forwards that we spent the night merrily spoiling. 

He'd already had a short earlier, and considering the distance that missed by I was fairly sure he wasn't going to kick five and drag his side over the line, but as AFL's equivalent of the Make A Wish Foundation you couldn't rule it out. What I really wanted was his absence at the other end to be ruthlessly exploited. It was not, but we certainly had our chances. Like Carlton and Footscray, a side we had control over were allowed to stay alive much longer than deserved due to the lack of a killer blow.

I wouldn't have believed it at the time but one early goal would likely have been enough, which is why my first true outburst of the night coincided with Langdon missing at the start of the quarter. It just felt like tempting fate when all I wanted was to slam the door shut and start looking towards next week. Because everything else was going his way, Petracca was the one to put it beyond any reasonable doubt (being unreasonable, I was still a touch nervous), with his third. The lady in the background clearly hadn't been tallying the scores in the Record because she thought he was still on two.

There was a Fox Footy segment after the game where the happiest looking Gerard Healy I've ever seen (was he left something in Dr. Edelsten's will?) swore black and blue that our improved forward play was more about intensity than the extra tall forward. To a degree I was prepared to agree. You still can't underestimate how much it helped McDonald to have the heat taken off him, and with the ball regularly being brought to ground there was certainly a much higher standard of forward pressure than we've seen anytime recently. 

A romping last quarter that sent fear through the league would have been nice, but we had to settle for slowly removing Port's collective will to live. The last goal was another ripper, with Fritsch doing a nifty (dare we say slick?) tap-on for Pickett to run to 50 and heave through his third. I love that shit. The finish was great, but the knock-on was the best bit.

Port's goal on the siren was a non-event, and even if percentage does come into it after Round 23 it won't be for a spot in the eight this time. We've reached the mythical 100% finals chance, and can officially concentrate on the top one/two/four rather than punching on for the right to finish eighth. It's a weird and wonderful world, and if I have to dump/refill the bathwater again it's going to play havoc with my water bill.

2021 Allen Jakovich Medal for Player of the Year
5 - Christian Petracca
4 - Tom McDonald
3 - Clayton Oliver
2 - Kysaiah Pickett
1 - Harrison Petty 

Major apologies to Gawn, Lever, May and Salem.

It is most certainly ON at the top. Barring the greatest of disasters, and despite Sizzle having his best run at it since 2015, you won't catch the top two from here. There's no movement in the minors, with Lever still holding May and Salem at bay in the Seecamp, Gawn likewise ahead of the barely qualifying Jackson (10.1 hitouts per game)in the Stynes, and Jordon vs nobody in the Hilton.

38 - Clayton Oliver
34 - Christian Petracca
22 - Tom McDonald
21 - Jake Lever (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
20 - Max Gawn (LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
19 - Steven May
17 - Christian Salem
13 - Kysaiah Pickett
12 - Luke Jackson
9 - Ed Langdon
7 - James Harmes
6 - Angus Brayshaw, Bayley Fritsch
4 - Charlie Spargo
3 - Michael Hibberd
2 - Jayden Hunt, James Jordon (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Rising Star Medal), Adam Tomlinson
1 - Harrison Petty 

Aaron Davey Medal for Goal of the Week
This is the hardest week of all. You could have Pickett's up and under, Fritsch's roller or the straight down the middle one that ended with Petracca, but I'm going for McDonald's smother/regather/curl because it perfectly encapsulated the MFC ethos of weirder, stranger, zanier. Bonus points for telling the opposition all about it. Obviously he wins the meat tray, in the spirit of Roy and HG's Club Buggery.

Pickett retains the lead for the St Kilda goal, but I can't tell you how close this went to going in front.

Next Week
It's Hawthorn again, and we hope they've learnt less for the return meeting than GWS. Given my recent record you won't catch me claiming victory in advance. They just got thrashed by Freo, are playing kids, and logically should just pack it away and finish below Adelaide and Gold Coast, but as if Clarko gives a shit now that he knows he's out of a job (for about 15 minutes) at the end of next season. Be very afraid. If you've just emerged from a coma don't let the margin of our first meeting fool you, that was three quarters and two minutes of sludge before they lost interest and collapsed.

The forward question has not yet been settled but Brown's got to get another couple of weeks at least. My good intentions to watch the Casey game were thwarted and I saw 0% of it, but while I'm happy for the Weid kicking three, I still wouldn't have picked him if he'd got 10. I hope his VFL form leaves him ready to commit total mayhem when selected again, but my first preference is still Brown.

That leaves the only big selection dilemma as whether Harmes and Viney both play. Their tackle numbers show they were both going at it full pelt, but with respect to Jack playing a defensive role, neither did anything with the ball. We could give one or the other a week off, or a night with the feet up as unused sub. 

Even though Viney had one effective kick from eight (!!?!!), I'm ever so slightly leaning towards keeping him due to an irrelevant bias towards his 2018 finals campaign. Still, I wouldn't object if it went the other way or they didn't bother with a change at all. In Goodwin, Yze, Choke Yourself With A Tie and god knows who else we trust.

IN: Sparrow
OUT: Harmes (omit)
LUCKY: Viney
UNLUCKY: Weideman

The week after
Just when we thought we were out of Darwin they pull us back in, this time to play away team to Gold Coast. Talk about a main event in any arena. Presumably, we don't get a cracker of what the NT is paying for the game, continuing the ripping free ride they've had from their association with us in 2021. Curious about the weather in Darwin at this time of the year I had a look at the BOM forecast, and one of days just said 'less humid'. This doesn't bode well for backing up against the Dogs, but we should be past the stage of our development (both physical and emotional) where playing a July game in the NT can be used as an excuse for everything that follows.

Phil Read
You'd be hard-pressed not to find me flogging my new book somewhere at the moment. I'm far too shy for all this but with a PR professional whipping me along I've been everywhere. Please, spend your valuable time listening to the fringe football personality once described like this:

I was also on ABC Drive last Monday, conducting an MFC love-in with our old vice-president Beverley O'Connor. You can hear that from 23.05 here. For now, the last stop on the media tour is SEN this Tuesday, where I'll be in studio after 11:00. Sadly they've moved from Richmond so I won't be able to see the same place where I won various prizes (including two hams and a tennis racquet), or summon up the ghost of Finey. If Chris from Camberwell rings in they might have to put the emergency tape on while I'm being revived. Keep an eye on Twitter for more details. 

You can still order online, but the book is now available in shops too. Make a scene if your local store doesn't stock it. Apologies to [store name redacted] for interfering with the display of your sports section to give The Last Hurrah greater prominence. Unless you've got rusted on loyalty to a retailer I endorse Dymocks and Readings, whose websites tell you exactly which stores have stock. Unusually, you can't get it at the heartland Dymocks Camberwell, but their Indooroopilly branch is mad for it. I hope you will be too. It's hardly going to knock The Barefoot Investor off the top of the sales charts but we're having a bash, so thanks for your support.

Final Thoughts
It's been difficult to find a frame of reference to anything we've done this year, but regardless of what happens in the end we're a half chance of playing the best home and away season of my life. Even the 16-6 finish in my first full season of caring was only good enough for an Elimination Final. As much as I reject the idea that jinxes are a thing I'll note that one more win draws us level with memorable seasons 1998, 2000, 2004 and 2018. Three of those ended in a prelim or better, the other in the biggest fizz known to man. Nothing is certain but the odds are increasingly tipping in our favour. Hold me, I'm scared.


  1. Love the blog Adam and I’ve ordered the book. Cheers

  2. Bought two of your books, Adstar. One for me, another for dad…the bloke who cursed me with this Demon Affliction…

  3. One of those rare weekends when all results went our way. Breathing space for us at the top and pain inflicted on those teams that deserve it. Melb d Port, Syd d Bulldogs, Saints d Brisbane, North d WCE, Coll d Richmond.
    We look so much better with Ben Brown forcing a contest. Even if Brown doesn't kick another goal for the season, the other forwards reap the benefits and the ball doesn't seem to ping out as quickly.
    I loved Steven May's game completely blanketing Charlie Dixon, not only on the intercept but also in the one-on-ones. Dixon looked rightfully embarrassed with the two goals he kicked. Great game from Petty too.


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