Friday, 24 September 2021

One more heave - Grand Final thoughts

It has, more than any other time in my supporting life, been a big week in football. Would like to say I was coping well with the idea of Melbourne in a Grand Final, but that would be a big, fat, lie. I've never clammed up and gone into denial about anything like this in my life, to the point where I'm worried about being co-opted against my will into an anti-vax rally.

After the flat first week of waiting, I thought I'd get right into the last few days. My intentions were to rewatch the 1994 final against the Bulldogs, pen a lengthy love letter to Nathan Jones, and write something half-resembling a match preview. I got the first part done early enough in the week that The Fear hadn't crippled me yet. It's not quite the Pulp's "This is the sound of someone losing the plot, making out that they're ok when they're not", but the build-up hasn't been as pleasant as neutrals think. I'll enjoy it retrospectively if we win. For now, I'm lucky not to be hyperventilating into a bag.

When the sun comes up on Sunday morning, our premiership drought will either have reached a full 57 years or be about nine hours old. In the grand scheme of things it's a bit silly to worry about that sort of thing, but bad luck I am. Having spent 32 of those years dreaming about what I'd do if we won a flag the small matter of the game being played on the other side of the country won't stop me from going off like it's the most important thing happening in the known universe at 19:15hrs AEST on Saturday night.

That's what I'm expecting to happen anyway. I don't think Max Gawn's third quarter in the prelim broke my brain. Even forced out of my comfort zone and forced to watch on a normal TV for the first time in three years, things are projected to get rowdy. There was even a Friday night test event when I watched a My Little Pony movie (with my daughter, it should be noted) to get a feel for the angles. I've already thought about how quickly I can plug the backup TV into an aerial if this one picks the worst possible time to die. If my aerial falls off the roof, well I guess we're stuffed.

Given that we've already established how wound-up I get for less meaningful TV games, it's almost certain that this will end in a commotion. Every time I think about Footscray winning in 2016, I feel bad for the guy who had a heart attack 10 minutes before the end. I suppose if the Bulldogs do win, it will be nice for him to be upright for it this time. He might want to check into hospital and watch from there just in case. I've considered doing the same, because by the time this is over I'll be an emotional and physical wreck. Part of me says I've grown up a lot since beating Carlton in 2014 gave me such serious migraines that I needed to be MRI tested for a brain tumour but if anything's going to set me off it'll be starting favourites in a Grand Final.

I might have been in full emotional retreat this week, but my stomach gave the game away. Since Wednesday its contents have been in an advanced state of liquefaction. In the immediate aftermath of the Geelong massacre I wanted as much Dees content as possible, and would have rolled around in a vault full of Melbourne articles like Scrooge McDuck if you'd given me the chance. This week my coping strategy has been to shut down. 

I've bought newspapers that will only be read if we win, reluctantly watched a handful of TV shows with my jaw clenched like an ice addict, and replayed moments of a game that hasn't happened yet in my brain a thousand times. The terror became so all-consuming on Friday that I couldn't bring myself to watch TV coverage of our final training session. I don't really ever want to watch training, but that's just what you do in Grand Final week isn't it? Not when you're desperately trying to avoid anal leakage.

I don't know if we're going to win, but I assume the result won't come easily either way. A breakthrough like Geelong 2007 literally happens once in a lifetime, while Footscray had to work for three and a half quarters to realise their drought was breaking, and Richmond slightly less. And let's not even get into what St. Kilda went through before coming away empty-handed. I refuse to believe anyone could be as nervous as I am now having seen even a single premiership in their lifetime.

24 hours from the time of writing we'll know the result, and I've got no idea how to tackle Saturday. Even politicians can spend the last day of an election doing something, no matter how token, to influence the result. I ran the clock down for a few minutes on Friday talking to SEN, but on Saturday there will be nothing left to do but ponder scenarios from glorious to doomsday over, and over, and over again. Lucky I don't drink or I'd be schindlers by midday.

All I can do is offer an amateur view on team selection. With May and Spargo seemingly fit to go, the last question is who starts as sub. Usually not something I'd give a fat rat's clacker about, but important in a game that could swing on an injury. Your options are Melksham, Jordon, Hunt and Chandler. I think you can rule out option four, but the rest all have claims. With all love and respect to Melksham, and especially Jordon, I'm going for Hunt. He can play at either end, in an emergency can run through the middle, and if we're intent on pulling off a scam, Charlie Spargo's questionable ankle provides perfect justification for a pace-injecting change when things get hot. Might be a bit unethical to rort the rule, but if we don't do it they will.

That's as close as you'll get for analysis from me. There's plenty of time for every TV pundit under the sun to talk about that sort of stuff before the game, and for BT/Brayshaw buffoon friendly commentary team to ignore it after the first bounce. If there's every been a time for Seven to run the same game on all their channels with different callers this is it.

You'd think that once the main event started - and I'm not talking about the hotly anticipated 'Chemist Warehouse Zorb Race' at three quarter time - the focus will be entirely on the footy. However, in a moment of "show me you're theatregoers without saying you're theatregoers", locals are being encouraged to support Victoria's two years of unsuccessfully battling the 'Rona by standing to applaud during the first quarter. It wouldn't bother me before the match, in a break, or on Wednesday afternoon, but in the early stages of a major event the city has fallen arse-backwards into hosting, it ranks up there with the boat doing doughnuts for healthcare workers. We know our state is stuffed, save your pity for fans of the losing team.

Once that ceremonial wankfest is over, and we've been through a half-time show that could be The Beatles for all it will mean to me, the answer to the question you've been waiting some/most/all of your life for will be revealed. I'll be nervously pumping out rubbish on Twitter @demonblog until there's no more rubbish to be pumped. There should be some kind of placeholder post on here by midnight, before I get cracking on what will either be the most joyous report in history OR a session of misery so bleak it will come with a trigger warning.

Have at it comrades. We've come this far together, may as well go off our nuts on Saturday night.

Dees by 10, Luke Jackson to shock the world by winning the Norm Smith, and me to miss it by having a massive brain hemorrhage halfway through the last quarter. It would only be right.

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Retro review - 1994 Semi Final

Other than people complaining about the Victorian premier 23 hours a day, there's not a lot to compare 1994 and 2021. The international villains are different, you can watch old TV shows without having to buy them three videos at a time from the ABC Shop, and on average you'll see five less goals in an AFL match. The one constant - as it has been for 57 years - is that we haven't won a premiership since. If you're reading this at any time after Saturday 25 September then I hope like buggery that we've rectified that slight on history.

Standing in the way of a drought-breaking flag is Footscray (or if you prefer, and I do not, the Western Bulldogs), a side who erased the worst of their own painful, fiasco-ridden recent history in 2016. For that reason, the most polite thing to do would be stand aside. We might complete the circle by doing the same for St Kilda in a few years. and in about five years we'll probably do the same for St Kilda. Not to mention how we offered minimal resistance when they won their inaugural flag. It's just good manners to let us win now, preferably in a landslide.

We haven't got much of a finals pedigree against the Dogs, it will be just our fifth against them from 90 played. Helps that they weren't in the league for its first 28 years, and didn't finish in the top four until 1938, but of the other 1925 debutantes, the Grand Final will only draw them level with finals against North, and leave them two behind Hawthorn. Since our first September meeting, in the 1946 Semi Final, our three other meetings have been well spaced out, with none between the 1961 Prelim and 1994 Semi. In that time we didn't even make the same finals series. Mind you, for most of it we didn't make any finals series. Even when we got going 1987-1991 they had dropped back into mid-table mediocrity.

Our paths finally crossed again in the second week of the 1994 finals, and incredibly even year where third and ninth were separated by one win. Footscray finished fifth with 13 wins, while we'd stumbled in the last round courtesy of a) thumping a woeful Sydney (Schwarz kicks nine, all rejoice) and b) Richmond dropping dead against Geelong. Thank god for the newly introduced top eight, it would have all been for naught a year earlier.

This didn't bode well for playing a 15-7 Carlton side that finished second on the ladder, but strange things were afoot at the MCG. When they led by 25 points in the second quarter it looked grim for us, before nine goals by the unusual combination of Sean Charles and Martin Pike saw us home comfortably

Our game was the dullest of four on the opening week. North and Hawthorn went to extra time, Bill Brownless sunk the Dogs with a kick after the siren, and West Coast beat Collingwood by two points. With the original recipe top eight eliminating the two lowest ranking losers, the Pies were already out. Our win tipped Hawthorn out, setting up a meeting with the highest ranked loser from week one, playing for the right to lose to minor premiers West Coast in a Perth Preliminary Final.

The Dogs had already beaten us twice, a three point thriller in Round 8, and a more comfortable 40 point win in Round 23. Based on that, and their narrow loss a week earlier, they might have been started favourites if not for losing three players (including Luke Beveridge) to injury. It left us preferred 2/5 to 13/8 (or in modern language, 1.40-2.62). No idea if I was that confident, I can't even remember it happening. Definitely wasn't at the ground, and with the teenage sooks already starting to bubble, the best I can do is imagine listening on the radio. Seems like a good opportunity to watch it in full for the first time then.

You know things are heading in the right direction when coverage opens on a none-more-90s scene. It's not just the COLOSSAL font used for the quarter time or the commentator profile shots tilted at a jaunty angle, it's the beer ad on the wing, and an MCG centre wicket resembling the Gobi Desert.

With possible showers and hail on the agenda, Paul Hopgood, Andy Lovell, Jason Norrish, Glenn Molloy (a late replacement for Sean Charles, who was literally never as good again) and David Schwarz all go for long sleeve jumpers. We know that's the weather forecast because it's presented in a fashion that takes up a third of the screen.

In the tradition of umpires letting players do whatever they want in a final (which will bode well for 2021 Footscray tossing the ball around like rugby leaguists), Todd Viney opened proceedings by swiping one closed fist at a ball and getting away with it. Elsewhere Tingay flattened Simon Atkins with a hefty hip and shoulder.

Footscray's first attack was turned back by David Neitz, not even 20 years old yet but already looking a brute of a man. After achieving the number of the beast by kicking 6.6 in his sixth game, he'd found a home in defence, and was on his way to All-Australian selection the following season. I suppose he had a lot more defending to do when we went back to being shit.

Our first sscore came from a lovely Tingay kick that left Matthew Febey in acres of space at half forward. He went for Lyon in the square but it was rushed through for a point - about the only win their defence has against him for three quarters. 

By modern standards, it's weird seeing fence line ads stay the same all game (in this case Fosters, and a request to please consider the Mitsubishi Magna. Thank you, I will, before buying almost any other car). For years it felt odd that they changed, now they've either been scrolling or digital for so long that it seems normal. You'll also notice Crown Casino proudly displaying their full name, a couple of years before they were discredited by people leaving their kids in the car and switched to simply Crown, playing up the entertainment, and down the losing your life savings.

All our early rucking was done by Dean Irving, drafted by us in the pre-season after the rock bottom rubbish Sydney turned him down. Took him a while to get going, but he broke into the side just in time to play finals. You know Jim Stynes is around somewhere, because he always was.

We certainly won the sponsor battle, with Tooheys front and back against ICI Chemicals on the front, and ICI's Dulux paint brand on the back. People like to drink beer, even if it comes from New South Wales, nobody queues to buy solvents (insert your own joke about the western suburbs in the space provided). If it was about flogging paint, why not put that on the front? Unkind people would say ICI's products taste better than Tooheys.

Six months into the season, there are still a few awkward pauses early in the commentary as they leaf through teamsheets to try and work out who the more obscure players are. Like when Molloy was called Phil Gilbert, or Hopgood 'Jeff Hilton'. Even with the liberal interpretation of deliberate in those days, the commentators were still all over Hopgood's blatant hand over the line in the back pocket. No interest from the umpire, who has already turned a blind eye to about nine other frees. The chances of anything being called deliberate were demonstrated a couple of minutes later when Kym Koster casually punched a bouncing ball over the line without an opponent anywhere nearby. After the early attempt to grass up Hopgood, they never try and get deliberate paid again.

If anyone was going to kick double figures, the smart money would have been on Richard Osborne, who'd plundered us for 11 as a Fitzroy player in 1989 and 10 a year earlier in that famous loss to the Swans. He had an early opportunity, marking a quick kick out of a pack by Neitz on a slight angle. 

There's so much wind about that he doesn't trust the first lot of grass thrown up in the air, but when the second also flings off over his left shoulder he's well aware of what he's in for. Not many players would have kicked 10 at three different clubs against the same opposition, and Osborne isn't one, missing here and kicking 0.3 in total. With zero respect to the tricky conditions, Ian Robertson spends the next 30 seconds hanging shit on him for missing.

Somebody's holding a banner off the fence, but they don't write it big enough so all you can see is '4 sale'. What '4 sale' I don't know, and they probably should have either sprung for an ad in the Trading Post or waited for the internet to come along. We do get a look at this rozzer, who looks like a kid posing in a uniform to sneak in for free.

Meanwhile, nothing says The 90s like somebody in a Charlotte Hornets hat. And the all-yellow tracksuit on the right is a nice touch.

The ball barely went down our end for the first five minutes, and the Dogs were only denied the opener when Sean Wight flew through the square to glove the shot through. That miss proves costly, with the ball going straight down the other end for Schwarz to take a delightful one-hand contested mark and stick it down Martin Pike's throat. After his four goal haul a week earlier he's off line here, possibly distracted by the red and blue balloons that wafted into his eye-line.

For a while everyone was mad for kicking points. Including Chris Grant, who led flawlessly for Scott West but missed. That finally led to the opening goal, and if you've forgotten how good The Ox was before his knee fell apart, watch him grab the ball out of the ruck and hold off his opponent, eventually allowing combined Lovetts to move the ball inside 50, where Lyon gathered, spun through two opponents and snapped from 30 metres out.

As Stynes finally comes on to replace Irving, there are farcical scenes at Footscray's end where Osborne gets a free for high contact that didn't go anywhere near being high, and is forced to take it from outside 50, even though his original kick landed with a teammate in the square. Maybe that would have changed the course of the game, we'd have lost, and been inspired to win the next seven flags. 

There was much booing from the crowd when his shot was rushed, but they stopped whinging when it turned into a seven point play a few seconds later. This was great news for both the person who got a professional banner done to celebrate Chris Grant's 100th, and somebody who ran theirs off on a dot matrix printer.

To complete the set, there was also a hand-drawn sign featuring much canine jowl.

At this stage the Dogs looked much better, so it'll be fun watching us rampage past them. We're lucky not to concede again when Norrish first shoves Neon Leon Cameron after a mark, then takes his time complying with the umpire's direction to move backwards. Was probably distracted by thinking about playing for Freo in '95. Leon's kick misses everything, further wasting their early dominance.

A moment please for our funky tracksuit top, expertly modelled by Jeff Hilton.

Schwarz was in absolutely everything all day, arguably having a better game than the guy who kicks 10 in three quarters. Here he gathers along the boundary, and even after kicking on the full, recovers with a screamer from the kick-in. Things are going so well that even when he flubs a kick, it rolls straight to Glenn Lovett. He's immediately tackled, but gets away with an 'interesting' attempt at handball. Mark Hunter believes he should have had a free, so strongly that he goes off his nut, with veins popping from his neck, at the umpire, shoving a teammate out of the way to get to him. In the era before the phrase 'bad look for the game' was invented, he got away with it instead of conceding 50.

Insert vintage 'free kick Footscray' reference here.

Our first free led to another stuff up that accidentally worked for us, with Stynes almost rolling the ball along the ground from a standing start before it bounced perfectly off a lunar crater and into Tingay's hands. He put it on a platter for Lyon, who kicked his second and everything was coming up Melbourne. Except if you're Glenn Molloy, who spent the next two minutes being rorted by umpiring decisions.

When Lyon kicks his third not long after you can see Steve Kretiuk losing the will to live. We almost get another one straight after, with Tingay and Molloy both failing to shamble the ball through from the line. Still, after Footscray's early domination it's all Melbourne here. This feeling is confirmed when Lovell snaps his first. This goes down well with the old bloke but not Saddam Hussein.

Another great moment for the fans of homemade signs.

When Kretiuk is seen in the hands of trainers the first thought is that they're asking him R U OK? after being thrashed to death by Lyon, then we see a replay of Martin Pike doing the sort of head/ground interface sling tackle that would get you multiple weeks these days. He might not even have realised Kevin Dyson was kicking our fifth over his head. As concussion hadn't been invented yet Kretiuk stays on for the rest of the game. "Should he have a spell on the bench?" ponder Robertson and special commentator Bernie Quinlan, as Steve wanders about like he's just had a lobotomy.

The Dogs missed a shot on the quarter time siren, and after having the game all their way in the opening minutes finish 23 points down. We'd blown bigger leads to worse teams in recent years, but it was a handy buffer in a final.

Whatever Alan Joyce said to the Footscray players at quarter time it didn't help, with Glenn Lovett setting Lyon up his fourth. Now the Dogs were in the deepest of shit. Even Matthew Febey joins in for a shot on his wrong side, missing but furthering the idea that we'd piss it in. Matthew Croft decided that if they were going down they may as well do it in style, casually pushing Lyon over after his next mark, giving away 50 that made Gaz's fifth a certainty. For that I'd have not only dragged Croft but traded him to Fitzroy for Nigel Palfreyman. The Dogs were a touch more forgiving, keeping him until 2004.

"What are we going to see here, a slaughter or a Footscray fightback?" asks Robertson. Looks a lot like the former when Pike nearly pulls another mark down in front of ground. When Irving bumps Steve Wallis so hard Mitch can still feel it today, Dog fans started to realise where this was going.

You know how good all these players were, but watching this was a reminder of Sean Wight's delightful runs.

No sign of the promised rain yet, but we do give away a few more frees, until eventually a comically young Brad Johnson gets the ball inside 50. That goes about as well as their other entries, immediately sent back the middle of the ground. The best they can do is pump it back in, and watch Jason Norrish kick the ball on the full at an almost 90 degree angle. That only leads to a point as well, putting them on 1.7, 34 points down, and quite frankly stuffed. 

In 1994 I'd still have been worried. Especially when Koster finally got reward for repeat inside 50s and kicked their second. He briefly thinks about celebrating before realising the state his side is in. Lucky he doesn't, because we go straight out of the middle for Lyon to mark again. Despite having been beaten all-ends-up, the piss-tip haired Keenan Reynolds thought it was a good idea to give Garry a mouthful. He then has to stand there and watch the ball go over his head for Lyon's sixth. Bad luck Keenan, made to look foolish for reasons other than his hair. He never played for the Dogs again, going to North for two seasons on the outskirts of their list.

Our goals was wiped out equally as quickly through Chris Grant. There must have been birds nesting right next to the Channel 7 effects mic, because he lined up to the sound of a nature documentary. Meanwhile, tis is one of the widest crowd banners I've ever seen...

... and I also enjoy the understated simplicity of 'LEON'.

For all the wrist-slashing about how footy is not as good as it used to be, there is an outrageous number of shamleless toepokes to the boundary that you wouldn't dream of getting away with now. Maybe stoppages aren't such a bad thing after all? You'd never know, the way the AFL treats them like Satan.

Things started to get ropey when Brad Johnson kicked their second in a row, reducing the margin to 22 points with 6.30 remaining. Barry Standfield, who looks like he should have stopped playing in 1982, kicked another one almost instantly and it was brown undies time for Melbourne fans everywhere.

In the immediate aftermath of the goal the classic MCG public address system tone plays and somebody's summoned to the Bay 6 Administration Office, Ground Floor, Olympic Stand. Every time it went off my mum recounted the story of a guy who found out that way that his whole family had died in a car crash, which was not the sort of heavy discussion I went to the footy for.

The sense that things were turning against us continued with Lyon plucking a loose ball, and missing to an open square from 20 metres out. They burst straight down the other end where Neitz absolutely murdered Chris Grant by introducing shoulder to head in a marking contest. While Grant tried to work out where he was, we whisked the ball away from danger. Hopefully this game is a metaphor for Saturday night, MFC cup-presenter elect Garry Lyon triumphant, with his Bulldog equivalent in disarray. 

Play stopped for Grant to be carted off the ground on a stretcher, giving him a 100th game to (not) remember. Bernie Quinlan was incredulous that he didn't get a free, and once Dogs fans see the replay they join in too. And even by the free bumping standards of the day, they had a point. Then they had a goal, with Brad Johnson's second making it an 11 point game. David Schwarz said "fuck that" and took a one handed mark for the immediate reply. He followed with a beautiful one hand gather of a bouncing ball, before wheeling around, and setting Lyon up. He misses, taking him to 6.2, but the way Schwarz moves here makes me sad about him doing his knee x3 all over again. The bulkier 1997-2002 version is how I best remember him, but if he'd stayed upright and kept playing like this there would have been queues a mile long to get into the MCG.

For the first time all day Dipper is called upon to boundary ride, letting us know that Chris Grant is conscious.. He's not only conscious, but back on the ground to set up Footscray's next goal, traumatic brain injury or not. Danny Southern clearly plays on after marking, but Glenn Molloy doesn't realise what he's about to do and pushes him over for a free. Molloy then does his block and looks like he's about to shank somebody. Glenn has a good game, but after giving away four frees it's no surprise that he makes with Charles again for the Prelim.

At 12 points, we would seem to be in a touch of difficulty. And only desperate defence against a Dog heaving it out of a pack like David Campese stops us conceding again. There must be some rain about now, because a pre-umbrella policy patron put theirs up in the front row. Doesn't last long, and by the end of the quarter we're playing in lovely sunshine. Lovell even sheds his long sleeves to go au natural.

Their challenge doesn't get very far, and Brett Lovett soon floated a kick over a pack for the reply. Even though he hasn't been seen since Round 17, there's a reminder that Jako is the man that makes our hearts flutter. Shame the next time he plays in an AFL game it will be for the Dogs. Regardless of that, please enjoy how well constructed this banner is. Leading, kerning, font, size and alignment of letters. Absolutely textbook.

That's about as far as Footscray go. Steve Kretiuk goes back on Lyon, and is immediately torched on another lead for goal seven. We then rush the ball straight towards goal again, but a Glenn Lovett snap goes wide. Hilariously, this leads to another goal for Lyon, as the hapless Kretiuk shit himself and grabbed at Garry's jumper instead of simply being beaten to the mark. Bernie Quinlan risks losing his Forwards Union ticket by suggesting it shouldn't have been a free because it didn't impede Lyon - as if that makes up for pulling him back like he was trying to stop him falling into a swimming pool.

For the second time, Footscray had stuffed the game up, and there was worst news for Matthew Croft, who did a hammy in the most painful, Todd Rixon-esque way.

"Our boundary rider will check him out" says Landy, and we don't hear from Dipper for the next 10 minutes. Then he disappears for the rest of the game.

Meanwhile, the biggest injury is to Steve Kretiuk's dignity, as Lyon floats in front of him for another mark. He unselfishly tried to chip over the top to Schwarz but gets it completely wrong and instead rolls it along the ground in front of him for no score. Lyon gets the goal anyway, courtesy of another stuff up by Reynolds, courtesy of a botched kick by Leon Cameron, who is described as having "a very poor afternoon". Garry's ninth means things are getting a bit silly, but appropriately for the leader of the AFL Squadron, the kids bloody love it.

Footscray are all at sea now, and Lyon immediately gets his next shot from a free. It's made by Schwarz pirouetting through the midfield in the most majestic fashion. This makes me want to go back in a time machine and stop him from playing on the day he did his knee the first time. Over to the Bulldog bench for reaction:

The misery is temporarily halted when Gaz gets excited at the idea of 10 and misses to the right. Joyce tried Danny Southern on him instead, only for the captain to hit double figures on the very next inside 50. The master of misdirection signalled for Brett Lovett to have a shot, then dashed off to mark. With 11 minutes left in the quarter he was on all sorts of record pace. Then, because Melbourne is the home of pain and suffering he clutches at his hammy. It doesn't instantly put him away, and he contests the next mark before Brett Lovett scoops the ball off the deck and kicks a fierce snap around the corner to make it 51 points, with Melbourne kicking the last six goals.

Tingay is the next in the queue, selling a dummy so violent that his opponent may have required surgical extraction from the MCG turf, before thumping it through from 50. Random crowd member, please describe that passage of play in one word:

Footscray are falling apart at a rapid rate. Croft's hammy is in tatters, Grant is feeling the effects of being clobbered by Neitz, and Kretiuk is described as 'ill'. Probably sick as a parrot from being made to look silly by Lyon. On the other hand, we were taking the piss, with Schwarz taking one handed marks. Everywhere. God knows why Lyon is still on at this point, but he has a shot at #11 while Joyce tries to transmit some inspiration via the medium of nose-picking.

In the interest of balance, we have to point out that Balmey also considered cleaning house, before pulling away at the last minute.

Here's Bulldog great Gary Dempsey. "Looking respledent in his.... baseball cap... and.... Bluey jacket." says Robertson, officially ushering in junk time. I'm more interested in the aerodynamic hair on the guy to his left. Also features another kid who could only be more 90s if he was pictured playing NBA Jam.

Before we have to fill time with any more heroes from the losing side, Kevin Dyson wallops another goal from 50. The person who put the 2 on his jumper must have walloped a slab.

This is a very enjoyable romp, but it lacks the sheer comedy value of third quarter in the 2021 Prelim. So far there hasn't been a goal half as funny as Gawn running riot. Unlike last week, we also conceded in the middle of the rampage. Who knows how many goalposts Chris Grant was seeing, but he aimed at the middle two and kicked truly. 

It ushered in a few seconds of silence, before they tried a tricky kick into the forward line and only succeeded in landing it with a grateful Wight. We go down the other end, Schwarz takes the ball out of a ruck contest, and turns in one movement to set up Brett Lovett from the square. "He's better than Nureyev" says Landy, in an amusing matter-of-fact fashion. A brief discussion about Nureyev thankfully steers away from the manner of his death, a subject that you'd struggle to get enlightened conversation about in 1994.

Anyway, who needed Rudolph, we had Dirty Harry.

Inspector Callahan once offered his boss a seven point suppository, and we were giving similar to the Dogs. They tried to do something different by pitting Leon Cameron against Stynes in the ruck. That didn't work. Lyon then turned provider, shepherding to allow Lovell to mark Todd Viney's kick uncontested and boot his second. 

And that's three quarter time, with a 68 point lead. We celebrate by sending out the world's most unusual boy band.

As much as you'd like to have pressed on and won by 120 points, there's always going to be an element of cue in rack during the last quarter of these games. One Footscray player tried to retain what pride he had by pulling Dean Irving's jumper over his head and punching him. Dean takes the view that the best revenge is living well, laughing in his face before kicking the opening goal. 

I would say this was some weird, Illuminati style shit, but if we were aligned with a shadowy cabal that controls the world they'd surely have slung us a flag before now.

With a landfill worth of rubbish now blowing onto the ground, Quinlan mistakes a few tumbling chip packets for hail, which stuffed his chances of getting a job reading the Channel 7 weather.

Knowing he's unlikely to play the following week, Molloy choose to go out niggling, giving Leon a mouthful of abuse at a stoppage. Stops short of belting somebody, but you know he wants to.

I always thought Lyon went off at three quarter time, but here he is in the early stages of the last, looking like he has absolutely no interest in doing anything that might cause further injury. Instead, Schwarz kicks one from an obscure angle. "We might call him Rudolph" says Landy. Nobody did. He tried to get the Nureyev angle up again later in the quarter and doesn't even get support from from his fellow commentators.

This finally prompts them to take Lyon off, exiting to a standing ovation while clutching worryingly at his leg. Not often you see the icepack attached with black electrical tape. That must have been purely for the comedy value of seeing him tear it off his exceedingly hairy legs. One of the Febeys enjoyed it.

We have plenty of chances in the last 10 minutes, but kick six behinds. Alan Joyce, does this give you any comfort? How about I just write down 'no'?

His side is so disinterested by this point that they don't even steam in to remonstrate when Viney sits a young Scott West on his arse. If he thought that was bad, wait and see what we did to him on 2000 Brownlow night. 

Most opposition players from this era ring a bell, but I admit to having ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA who Robert West was. And no wonder. Like Reynolds, he didn't play for the Dogs again. Unlike Reynolds, he didn't get a chance at another club.

The MCG surface was bad enough at the first bounce but by this point it's become hilariously bad, with potholes everywhere. Scott West rises above the treacherous conditions to kick the most token of consolation goals. And that's it as far as majors go. They don't score again, we get three more points, everyone of a red and blue (not white) persuasion goes home happy, while it was tears before bedtime for the straight sets dogs.

There's late injury drama when Schwarz's 13th mark is marred by some soon-to-be-forgotten fringe player called Anthony Darcy dropping a knee on his head. According to Wikipedia (and if you can't trust them etc...) he later married Dr. Katrina Warren, via her relationship with Craig Nettelbeck. And you thought I was overly fascinated by obscure AFL players. Like half his teammates, Scott never played for the Dogs again.

As much as the commentators tried to convince us that the contact was purely accidental, it was at a very minimum reckless. Which wasn't something for the tribunal back then, but morally I can pin the blame on a player I'd never heard of until five minutes ago for Schwarz ending the game looking like this:

As Schwarz is carted off, let's have another look at that fantastic tracksuit. And somebody's K-Mart shopping bag lower left.

God only knows what happened to Dipper, but for the first time all day, with about two minutes left, they throw to Neil Kerley for an injury update. I presume they both got to talk more during breaks on the original broadcast, because they haven't done the job of one man between them during the game itself.

With a minute left, the final score is a hurried snap from Andrew Obst, prompting footage of future Palmer United Party Senate candidate Doug Hawkins looking glum. I wish they'd balanced that with Jako looking happy, but he was probably already down in the Southern Stand carpark rooting by this stage.

Still no sign of Dipper, and Kerley handles the post-match interview with Lyon. The captain has no hard feelings about having to play the first ever Prelim in Perth, saying "you've got to go over there to win it." We went over there, but we most certainly did not win it. Come back in 27 years for us to finally beat somebody in a Prelim over there. Try explaining to the people of 1994 that the opposition will be Geelong. 

Your final results, courtesy of Demonwiki

Match Statistics

Melbourne win by 79 points

Goalkickers: Garry Lyon 10, Brett Lovett 3, Kevin Dyson 2, Andy Lovell 2, David Schwarz 2, Dean Irving 1, Stephen Tingay 1

Sunday, 19 September 2021

Grand Final diary - Week 1

Monday 13 September

  • Watched the 12 minute clip of Gawn's goals with different commentary. By the time I'd seen Garry Lyon pissing himself laughing several times I was doing it too. Still hard to believe any of it happened.
  • Added a placeholder page for the Grand Final to Demonwiki. Surreal feeling, considering last time we made one you had to wait about three weeks for websites to load.
  • Bought newspapers for the first time in 10 years, just to have all the Grand Final stories in my archive if we win. If we don't, Bulldogs fans are welcome to pick through my recycling bin on the 26th. By the time this is over I want a profile piece on everybody in the team, and on the list. Got one about Joe Gutnick instead, which was unexpected. Good to know he's still interested.
  • Donated my guaranteed Grand Final ticket to somebody who has been very good to me over the years. Turns out he got two more from other sources so needs to find a third party to shift the original to (Note from the future - it's gone, don't even ask), which is fine, except that I've said it can only go to a legitimate MFC fan. I would be furious if my spirit was involved in some random Westralian doing the wave.
  • Contacted by a journalist wanted to do a story on The Last Hurrah being "the best timed book in history". This is true from a sporting perspective, but a bit of a letdown to have thousands of copies gathering dust in locked down bookstores. Checked where I was in the Amazon charts about 20 times instead. Discovered The Great Deepression ranked #1 in 'American Football Coaching'. Sure, why not.
  • Had a fun phone call with my uncle in law (is that a real title?), who hasn't quite gotten over us regularly dicking Collingwood in the 1950s. This might be the only fortnight where I'll ever willingly engage in small talk.
  • Eldest daughter has absolutely no interest, to the point she tried to pull down the scarf I've pissweakly hung in the front window. I have failed as a parent. For today's home schooling there was a sheet where they had to write a prayer. I left a fake one at the top of the pile with "DEES FLAG PLEASE" filled in, and she woke me up to throw the scrunched paper in my face
  • You know you're in a Grand Final when the ring-in fans on TV news stories are wearing Reject Shop scarves that say 'MELBOURNE', or 'Member 2007'. I'm not going to be a gatekeeper, come one, come all.
  • Watched AFL360 and On The Couch in their entirety. Usually I fast forward to get MFC content and skip everything else, cutting the whole thing down to about a 30 minute commitment. This time I wanted to see everything, even if it was related to Port Adelaide going tits up. Got actual chills watching the montages from our game. The idea that we could (COULD) do the same with a premiership on the line is dead-set bonkers 
  • Started trying to rank every game against the Dogs that I've ever reviewed. Constant use of term 'Footscray' likely to annoy somebody. Bigger job than I thought.
 Tuesday 14 September
  • Have been very healthy for the last 11 months, and my weight is probably the lowest it's been since 2000. Now I wake up with the compulsion to nervously eat seven Zinger burgers and a block of Top Deck. There's only so long I can hold off, and will probably resemble the Michelin Man on the 26th.
  • Child A is trying to get Child B to say "the Demons are going to lose". By the 25th she'll be running through the house in a Dogs jumper pledging loyalty to Bevo
  • Spoke to my old boss about the Dees on Southern FM. It's not what you know etc... Several more interviews planned. I'm aiming to reach the 25th having done more media than Max Gawn.
  • Went for a walk and saw plenty of houses (relatively speaking) with Demon decoration. Didn't know anyone cared but it's got to be good for house prices 
  • Wearing the retro 80s logo hoodie in the post office and the lady behind the counter asks "are you excited?" I just agreed because "no, I'm terrified" would have sounded like a cry for help.
  • Watched AFL360 again, but was less forgiving to non-Grand Final content this time
  • Finished ranking of 2005-2021 games against the Dogs. A timely reminder of some of the ludicrous stuff we've seen over the years. There had better be a new #1 once this is all over.
  • Now thinking about a post featuring all the players who have been at both clubs. Will probably accidentally cause outrage by leaving somebody really obvious out 
  • Still planning a rewatch of the '94 Semi. Could be a week two job.
  • Mood is still reserved. Struggling to believe it's real no matter how many times I see highlights of us thumping Geelong.
Wednesday 15 September
  • Still tense, but we're in a big dip between the excitement of last Friday night, and a game over a week away. Media will need a scandal to stay occupied for the next 10 days. They're already heavily into filling time by discussing fringe clubs trading fringe players.
  • Forgot I did an impulse order of the Grand Final t-shirt on the night of the Prelim. Not my best investment - it will never be seen again if we lose, and will quickly be replaced by a premiership version if we win. Something for the merch collection. 
  • Nathan Jones retires, giving us all a timely reminder of the physical and psychological load he shouldered in our shittest years. I'm thinking of a tribute post but it's not easy to write about my affection for him. It's more a case of "if you know, you know", but that won't stop me doing something in TL:DR style.
  • Developed a theory that the extra week off won't affect us because we've got experience managing it, while Footscray will have to come to terms with managing their nervous energy. We'll know about 60 seconds into the first quarter on Saturday week.
  • Quoted in one piece in The Age, spoke to them for another. On the RRR breakfast show tomorrow and ABC Melbourne on Monday. After years of trying to stay anonymous, there will be a public backlash at this rate. Fully preparing to be cancelled for writing something scandalous 10 years ago.
  • Enjoying the club painting murals on walls in Perth. Doesn't make the whole experience any less surreal. Just have to keep thinking that there's no guarantee they'd be in the Grand Final if it was played in Melbourne. I'm preparing to declare the mystery flight to Queensland as the moment that set up a premiership.
  • Ludicrously pro-MFC tone of AFL360's coverage a bit disrespectful to the Dogs, who could very well win. I worried about this before the Brisbane game and Channel 7 backed a winner, here's to more of that.
  • Tried to take my mind of things by watching the big Spain vs Sweden T20 clash on Fox Cricket. Still better quality viewing Footy Classified.
Thursday 16 September
  • Under normal circumstances, the Grand Final tension would be ramping up about now. Instead, the buildup has been flatter than a plateful of piss. Media reduced to reporting on the SHOCKING NEWS of our players being told not to hang around Perth until all hours, and the Bulldogs getting on the cans after winning a Prelim.
  • Found a diehard home from my ticket. May they do my spirit justice.
  • Almost 10 years to the day since one person called Tom went interstate and discovered that the facilities included a signing room, McSizzle has found the Perth equivalent. Gary Pert must have had a booking too, we flogged the Bentleigh Club for $23 million on the same day. Here I was worried about the pokies money leaving us with a massive revenue gap, now we're in Scrooge McDuck territory. As long as we don't invest this windfall it in the modern equivalent of the Nugan Hand Bank it looks like we're out of deep financial shit for a few years. 
  • AFL360 reduced to plugging V8 Supercar coverage on Foxtel. I suppose if you're not allowed to show the big game you may as well start warming up the post-footy season content.
Friday 17 September
  • For all the mockery of Geelong players getting sick in Camp Granada, now Goodwin and Yze have got gasto. We've all had the shits over this team at some point, but this is not the time. Like May's hamstring, the extra week might have done them well. Imagine it coming on in the middle of trying to coach a team in a Grand Final. Double imagine if Choco has to come off the bench and take the headset mid-match. Would make for a great premiership documentary, especially if Goodwin forgets to take his microphone off before running to the bathroom a'la Naked Gun. 
  • Apparently, we sold a million dollars worth of merch after winning last week. That's covered the money we lost not playing in Alice Springs anyway.
  • Started to tie myself in knots thinking about the permutations for how the game will play out. Feel like if we kick a decent score we'll win. The only good tie is the one Choco will pretend to choke himself with after winning.
  • Have started to think about how I'll handle this match review. Win or lose, this can't be done in the same way as usual. First instinct is to do a short post on the night/early Sunday morning capturing initial reaction then get into the full thousands of words extravaganza over the next couple of days. If it goes really badly I might not finish it until November.
Saturday 18 September
  • I think the tension is finally getting to me. Last night I slept like death, but had a non-footy related dream that featured Ben Brown casually hanging out in the background. What does it all mean?
  • Still buying the papers every day. Enjoying the features on every random player in our side, enjoying mocking the dickhead letters to the editor more.
  • Walking around a near-deserted city I realised just how much I've fallen out of love with the city of Melbourne over the last couple of years. Might have started before lockdowns 1-6, but the last 18 months has absolutely sealed the deal. Seems like a lot of work to shift states but might think about it if I can go out on a flag.
  • Doesn't help that the pre-Grand Final atmosphere still seems flat. As much as I usually hate mingling with a passion, this is the only time I'd ever welcome it. Living vicariously through people with paint and banners on their fence. If we win maybe I'll just howl with joy off my back deck and hope somebody howls back. 
  • Believe it or not, I am a quiet fan in real life. In a victory for the silently fuming fan, somebody asked me "...and what team do you go for?"
  • Week 1 ends with Charlie Spargo injury fears, going down with an ankle injury in the scratch match. Looks like he'll be ok, and nobody went down with a shattered spine that will definitely keep them out, but still sent my blood pressure through the roof when I saw it. On the up side, the door is now open to pick Hunt as the sub and send him on late in the game when pace is needed on the flimsy grounds that Spargo can't possibly go any further. If we don't do this sort of tricky shit the other side will.

A history of shared players - MFC and FFC

There's no time for a fancy introduction. It does what it says on the tin.

Bill McIntyre
MFC 1920 (3 games), Footscray 1925 (13 games)
World War I veteran who found himself at Melbourne for three consecutive games in 1920. Cleared to play with then-VFA side Footscray in 1920 and remained there through their first league season. Later went back to the VFA with Brighton, who later became Caulfield, who later became defunct.

Eric Andersen
MFC 1926 (2 games), Footscray 1929-1930 (22 games)
From 'Point Cook Flying School', the greatest place any player has even been recruited from. You'd never doubt the courage of anyone who dared to fly planes in the 1920s, but he only had a short career with us, with two games at the start of 1926. Then went to Brighton (them again), and Castlemaine, before returning for two league seasons in 1929.

Peter Hannan
MFC 1927 (2 games), Footscray 1933 (6 games)
There's not a lot of long, fruitful careers in this list so far. Peter - no relation to Mitch as far as we can tell - had a five year break between two short cracks at the VFL. Called up as a late replacement for his debut, he added one more game in 1927 before being cleared to Prahran early the next year. Reappeared with the Dogs in 1933 for six more games then went back to Prahran. Died at age 29 in 1938, cause unknown.

Percy Streeter
MFC 1933 (2 games), Footscray 1934 (5 games)
Originally from Williamstown and Newport, the Tricolours had first rights to Streeter if they wanted him. That they did not, and he found his way to Melbourne for two games, 13 weeks apart, in 1933. This finally got Footscray interested, and he joined them for five games the next year. Stayed local and went to VFA side Yarraville the next year, playing in their 1935 flag.  

Frank Halloran
MFC 1935 (2 games), Footscray 1937 (4 games)
Originally came from Kyneton, Halloran went back there after his short stint with the Dees, then played four games with the Dogs in 1937 before going back to Kyneton for good. His son Danny played 15 games for Carlton in the 1970s. Should have applied for a father/son rule exemption, the way we were going in the 70s he'd probably have played 150 for us.

Jack Coolahan
MFC 1937 (3 games), Footscray 1938 (12 games)
Mortlake's 'Cactus' Coolahan was promoted from the seconds for three games in mid-1937, before being cleared to Footscray early the next year. Played in their 1938 finals side before leaving. Some debate whether his name was actually spelt 'Coulihan' or 'Coulahan' - an early version of when people thought our team had players called Maloney, Wonimiri, Jarrah, Pettard and McClean.

Stan Penberthy
Footscray 1932-1937 (75 games), MFC 1937 (11 games)
The first man to join us from the Dogs since their entry into the VFL, Penberthy was originally from Western Australia. He had a controversial old time at the Western Oval, refused a clearance when he cracked the sads after being dropped in 1934, but bouncing back to captain them two years later. 

Dropped from that job at the start of 1937 he was effectively delisted by the Dogs in June of that year. This caused the fans to go off (presumably not on the forums), leading to the committee registering a vote of confidence in the Chairman of Selectors. For the first time ever the vote of confidence displayed actual confidence and Penberthy had to find another club. He chose Melbourne over St Kilda because his boss was involved at the club, playing out the season with us before retiring.

Hughie McPherson
Footscray 1939-1940 (13 games), MFC 1941-1944 (37 games)
Spent two years at the Bulldogs before crossing to Melbourne during the war. Even with our playing stocks ravaged by military service, his best haul was 15 games in 1943. Better known as a runner for Norm Smith from 1954, where he would pass messages under the guise of treating injured players, and in 1959 was reported for using abusive language. Legend suggests it was his idea to play Ron Barassi as a ruck/rover.

Bob Spargo
Footscray 1934-1941 (65 games), MFC 1942 (2 games)
The head of the Spargo dynasty that ultimately led to Charlie was rarely a regular at the Western Oval across eight seasons. His best year was 1938, when he played 15 games and got nine Brownlow votes. A fireman by trade, Spargo was recruited by Melbourne to fill one of many gaps caused by players lost to war service. Appeared in two consecutive games at the start of 1942 then disappeared. Not literally, that would be tragic.

Frank Scanlan
MFC 1943-1944, 1947-1948 (33 games), Footscray 1949 (18 games)
Debuted shortly after his 16th birthday, playing seven games across his two seasons. Missed 1945 and 1946 while serving in the Navy, before coming back for 26 more games. Followed his brother Bill to Footscray in 1949, playing one season there before going to Port Fairy as playing coach.

Bill Scanlan
MFC 1943-1948 (51 games), Footscray 1949-1953 (72 games)
The first player to jump to the Dogs after more than 50 games for us. In 1947 the Football Record unkindly referred to 'Kanga' Scanlan as "one of the worst kicks in league football". Jumped to Footscray along with his brother at the start of 1949, where he was a regular until 1953. 

John Kerr 
Footscray 1953-1958 (81 games), MFC 1958 (1 game)
Originally wanted to play for Melbourne but lived in Footscray territory and couldn't convince them to let him go. Must have forgotten his pro-MFC sentiment when he was one of their best in the 1954 Grand Final. Left midway through 1958, finally landing at Melbourne and playing one game as a late replacement for an injured Bluey Adams. Kicked two goals but lost his spot when Adams recovered and went to Mordialloc in the VFA. Not the guy who sacked Gough Whitlam.

Greg Parke
MFC 1968-1973 (119 games), Footscray 1974-1975 (37 games)
Bucket-handed centre half-forward who took a ludicrous 24 marks in a game in 1970. Signed with South Adelaide in 1973, but even after resigning from his job with the police, Melbourne wouldn't clear him. Instead he was swapped to Footscray for Garry Baker, Charles Pagnoccolo and John Keast. Hopefully he did a George Costanza and just walked back into walk the next morning, pretending he'd never quit. Parke finally made it to the SANFL with Norwood in 1976, before coming back for a year with Fitzroy.

Garry Baker
Footscray 1972-1973 (14 games), MFC 1974-1981 (127 games)
The most famous Melbourne beard before Max Gawn came from Footscray's Gippsland zone, but was surplus to requirements and swapped as part of the deal for Parke. The other two played a single game between them, but Baker gave much greater value over eight seasons with the Demons. He had issues with injuries, in 1979 he injured his knee colliding with Tony Shaw in an exhibition basketball game, then hurt it again a year later.

According to Baker nobody told him he was delisted at the start of 1983 until he turned up to the jumper presentation night and they got to #54 without his name being read out. I don't believe it, but would make a great story if you'd been on the piss in the Hobart pub he ran after retiring.

Ted Carroll
Footscray 1973 (1 game), MFC 1974-1977 (31 games)
Another from Footscray's country zone, his career at the Western Oval extended to one statless game. Spent four years at Melbourne and won the Reserves best and fairest in his second last season. Appeared for another three games at Collingwood in 1978 while sporting a ripping moustache. Apparently nicknamed Christmas, and I'm not sure I want to know why.

Charles Pagnoccolo
Footscray 1970-1973 (46 games), MFC 1974 (1 game)
Described as one of the recruits of the year in 1970, he was out of favour after four seasons at Footscray and flogged to Melbourne as part of the Greg Parke deal. Came off the bench once to kick 0.3 and wasn't invited back. Later tried his hand at professional athletics.

Terry Wilkins
Footscray 1973-1974 (20 games), MFC 1975-1976 (14 games)
Fringe player across both his VFL stints, Wilkins found more fame at Sandringham in the VFA. He captained them, played in a Grand Final, was runner up in the Liston Trophy, and later made their team of the century.

Jamie Barham
MFC 1981 (4 games), Footscray 1982 (1 game)
Originally zoned to Collingwood, he joined Melbourne after three years of living in their zone while playing for Gisborne. After four games in the 1981 wooden spoon campaign, he went to Footscray in 1982 and they won the spoon too, making him one of just eight players in league history to do a back-to-back spoon double at different clubs.

Brian Wilson
Footscray 1978-1979 (9 games), MFC 1982-1990 (154 games)
A rare case of not crossing directly between the clubs, but still a candidate for the finest player ever to appear for both. Wilson had two years at North Melbourne in between, leaving Footscray 

After Royce Hart told him he'd spend 1980 with the Under 19s, Wilson shoved off to North and finished third in their 1981 B&F. Just one of the many great decisions that helped rhyming slang Royce to an 8-45 coaching record. With his value fattened up, Wilson was then flogged to Melbourne alongside Steven Icke to raise money for the Krakoeur brothers.

For the second time he proved his old club wrong, beating former teammate Ross Glendinning for one of the most unexpected Brownlow wins of all time. Though he never hit the heights of that season again, he was one of his side's most exciting, and excitable, players for the rest of the decade. Battled dozens of injuries during the rest of his career, including a broken arm after sliding into the MCG fence during a practice match.

Retired at the end of 1990 after a severe hamstring injury late in the season but was convinced to make a comeback with St Kilda. Played his best game against Melbourne with six goals and suggested he might have stayed if they'd tried to talk him out of retirement. John Northey called bullshit, saying "He's retired every year since I've been here."

Kelvin Templeton
Footscray 1974-1982 (143 games) , MFC 1983-1985 (34 games)
Kicked 118 goals in 1978, including 15 in one game, and won the 1980 Brownlow Medal before falling out of favour at Footscray due to injuries. Always desperate for goalkickers, Melbourne paid a metric shitload to sign Templeton in 1983. His signature came easy, but Footscray's clearance didn't, eventually having to go through the Supreme Court. The Dogs counter-claimed that he was in breach of a five year contract, before finally settling on a $150,000 fee over a bottle of wine. Not the last decision made at this club where you wonder if our negotiator was pissed. 

Kicked eight in his second game but continued to be troubled by injury. Looked to have regained some of his old form with 51 in 16 games during his second year, then missed the first half of 1985 with foot problems. He was dropped from the list in the 1986 pre-season, so ravaged by injury he was barely able to kick over the man on the mark. A few years earlier this wouldn't have disqualified him from playing in our forward line.

Les Bamblett
MFC 1983 (11 games), Footscray 1984-1988 (37 games)
Initially reluctant to join Melbourne, he changed his mind after a 'chance meeting' with Ron Barassi on the streets of Shepparton. Surely Ron was lying in wait and deliberately 'accidentally' walked into him. However they did it, the plan worked. Bamblett won the Morrish Medal for best player in the Under 19s and debuted in the opening round the next year. 

Unhappy at Melbourne, he wanted to go to Richmond and play alongside Maurice Rioli and Phil Egan. The clubs couldn't agree a price and he went back to Shepparton. Eventually swapped to the Dogs in exchange for the rights to a young Steve O'Dwyer.

David Allday
MFC 1985-1986 (15 games), Footscray 1988 (6 games)

From the great line of '80s players who look like disappointed PE teachers, Allday scored six Brownlow votes in 1986, and was rewarded by being sacked in the pre-season because we had too many ruckmen on the list. The later success of O'Dwyer and Jim Stynes suggests it was a fair decision. After a year off he came back to the VFL with Footscray, then played for Werribee.

Tony Campbell
MFC 1986-1991 (75 games), Footscray 1992-1993, 1996 (43 games)
The all-time #1 Melbourne player who looked like he should be in an episode of The Sopranos, Campbell bounced between defence attack before being traded to the Dogs at the end of 1991. One of the first AFL players to try a punting career in the NFL, Campbell didn't make it and returned for a single game with the Dogs in 1996. Liked to get around in a glove.

Dean Chiron
Footscray 1986 (1 game), MFC 1987-1989 (17 games)
Originally at St Kilda, Chiron kicked six in a game in his debut season but only played four times the following year. After 12 months in the country, he turned up at the Western Oval in 1986 and played once, before getting a third chance at Melbourne. Played the first final in 1987 but was suspended and didn't make it back into the side. Owner of one of the most 80s haircuts you'll ever see.

Luke Beveridge
MFC 1989-1992 (42 games), Footscray 1993-1995 (31 games)
Fringe player in three of his four seasons at Melbourne, playing a career best 21 times in the still popular 1991 campaign. Fell out of favour the next year and only played six more times before being traded to the Dogs. Played a further three seasons there before going to St Kilda for four more years. Later went into coaching, and we hope he ends this season with one premiership to his name.

Allen Jakovich
MFC 1991-1994 (47 games), Footscray 1996 (7 games)
Truly a man who needs no introduction, after bursting onto the scene in late 1991 by kicking goals left, right and centre. Did more of the same at a slower pace for the next three seasons when not injured. Kicked eight in his last game, then missed all of 1995 before the Dogs inexplicably used pick nine in the National Draft on him. Imagine the scenes if a club used a top 10 pick like that now. Did next to nothing with the Dogs except look bored in Year of the Dogs while Steve Wallis was giving a tearful retirement speech. Still a chance to appear in celebrations if we win on Saturday. 

Adrian Campbell
Footscray 1988-1990, 1992 (30 games), MFC 1993 (2 games)

Forward picked up after four seasons with the Dogs. Handed #1, he wasn't treated like a #1, waiting until Round 21 to play. Kicked three goals in a mauling of Richmond, and two the next week, but did his ankle and missed all of 1994 before being delisted. Generous AFLW recruiting rules meant we could still select his daughter Georgia.

Craig Ellis
Footscray 1994-2001 (107 games), MFC 2002 (15 games)
Defender who nearly retired to become a pilot at the end of 1995, remaining to play with the Dogs for eight years. Joined us at 27 but looked about 47 in his profile photo. Before debuting for us he had to serve a two match suspension for belting new captain David Neitz. Held a spot in our backline until doing his knee. Retired, started a clothing company that went bust, then bounced back with a swimwear company that's raking in big money.

Stephen Powell
Footscray 1997-1999 (30 games), MFC 2000, 2002 (44 games)
People always remember what they were doing when 9/11 happened, I remember discovering we'd traded for Powell while reading a complimentary copy of the Herald Sun in the now-defunct Bourke Road, Camberwell McDonalds. Wall-to-wall coverage of trade week was clearly another few years away. 

Even then I had no interest in players from other clubs, so there wasn't a lot of excitement about it, but he was a huge part of our 2000 campaign, kicking 32 goals from the midfield, most of them in the wins that carried us to the Grand Final. He finished fourth in the B&F behind the lofty company of Woewodin, White and Yze - with a massive gap to fifth. 

Because nothing comes easy around here, he missed all of 2001 with popular injury scourge osteitis pubis. That didn't seem so bad when he came back to play almost all the next season, well down on goals but still a handy player. Not handy enough to get paid what he wanted (consider that this is the same off-season where we flogged Woewodin to try and balance the books), and off he went to St Kilda gratis. For years I was bitter about this, until finding people I was more upset with. He went alright at the Saints, playing in two losing Prelims, but never went close to replicating the form of that glorious 2000 campaign.   

Stefan Martin
MFC 2008-2012 (57 games), Footscray 2021- (8* games)
Ahh, the dear old SME. What are the odds that I'd get into a player at the absolute ground floor and follow him through his career, only to eventually see him win a premiership... against us. Hope he remembers me saying I was looking forward to seeing him next year outside the MCG shortly before a) we lost by about 85 points and b) he was flogged to Brisbane for a derisory draft pick, and acts accordingly.

At the time I was ropeable about trading him, but given that it led to us drafting Tom McSizzle AND eventually clearing the path for Gawn I'll reluctantly agree it was a good thing. Also work for the SME himself, who had a shizen start at Brisbane before Bradburying his way into the #1 ruck job that I'd had a sneaking suspicion he'd be good at. Eventually frozen out at the Lions he switched to Footscray for one last go at success this year, and I hope he personally has a nice time on the 25th but his team loses by 111 points.

Daniel Cross
Footscray 2002-2013 (210 games), MFC 2014-2015 (39 games)
The word 'culture' is usually only used in footy when you're making fun of somebody else, but that's exactly what Cross offered to a side that had just won two games in a season. Edged out of the Bulldogs after a long, successful career, you can easily argue that when they won a flag two years later it showed they were 100% right to chuck him. It was an equally good decision for us to recruit him, he was never going to play finals but joined Bernie Vince in providing much-needed stability and experience. Also helped that he played good footy in a still flimsy side.

Cross ended his MFC career in the most appropriate way, being carried off on a stretcher in a near-empty stadium, bravely giving the thumbs up like stuntman Lance Murdoch. One of the more fondly remembered stints of under 50 games in recent years.

Mitch Hannan
MFC 2017-2020 (50 games), Footscray 2021- (16* games)
Remember being was worried about losing the legacy of Gawn at Kardinia Park if we stuffed up the Prelim? I wonder if this game could sour memories of Mitch's great run in 2018? Unless he wins it in the same fashion, with BT yelling out random units of distance, I think the time elapsed will save it. Nevertheless, it's still something to know we could lose a flag to a player deemed surplus to requirements and chucked for a third round pick. 

No hard feelings towards Hannan or over the trade, I don't think he'd have played 16 games this season so best of British luck to him. Had his best game since 2018 again Port, hopefully it's out of the system and he reverts to the six touches/zero goals form that convinced us to trade him in the first place.