Friday 11 March 2022

You weren't supposed to be able to get here you know - 2022 season preview

"Defending premier Melbourne" eh? I still don't believe it. Perversely, it may take until we're no good again - currently estimated at some time after the next passage of Halley's Comet - to fully appreciate what a special time this is. 

I'm a bit afraid of wasting the rest of our golden run of this run by constantly reminiscing about September 2021, rather than engaging in the great Australian tradition of acting like an arrogant kent towards opposition fans. What a problem to have, better than the exact same Grand Final circumstances happening in reverse, I'd have moved to the Galapagos Islands and pulled the internet cable out.

Last year I said: "I'm not as young as I used to be, thoughts are definitely turning to winning the competition at least once before I snuff it". So I'm not going to get excessively greedy, but at least one more flag would be nice. Being Melbourne, it's just as likely that we'll finish 15th. This would be a waste, but as long as #13 is still locked up in the trophy cabinet I'll be right.

Now, on with the same old segments as every year, because I'm too old, tired, and broken down to come up with anything new.

Buy, Hold, Sell


Ben Brown
Was near unstoppable once he got a run on at the end of the year, and should continue to prosper from the ball being regularly booted in his direction.

Luke Dunstan
You could ask what somebody from an also-ran team can teach a midfield that just won a flag. And you'd be right, but even reputation suggests he'll don the white apron and regularly butcher kicks he can still do some damage if required. Should offer some value for zero cost.

Luke Jackson
Piss off Freo, West Coast etc, but I would borrow from the mob to buy shares in Jackson this year. I don't know anything about futures trading that wasn't in Trading Places, but consider a deal that allows you to cash out big time if he's seen browsing property anywhere west of Docklands.

Ed Langdon
A few years ago, opposition coaches worked out that if you could stuff up Jayden Hunt's run by just parking somebody in front of him. Fat chance doing that against Langdon, who dashes from one end of the ground to the other at turbo speed all day. We've pulled off a few good trades recently but this is up there with the best. 

Clayton Oliver
His spectacular luck with injury has to end somewhere, but as long as he plays scientific studies prove he'll run riot about 80% of the time. Nobody's untaggable, but by this stage of his career it's clear Clayts is about as close as we're ever going to see. Also annoys opposition fans. Do not buy shares in his ridiculous facial hair.

Christian Petracca
Hard to get much better than one of the greatest Grand Final performances in history but I'm sure he'll have a red hot go. Any slight loss on investment will be worth it just to know you were part of something special.

Joel Smith
A controversial buy recommendation, but I reckon he will go alright if called on. I'm not mad at Charlie Cameron kicking five, and am surprisingly calm about Smith's prospects if required. A low cost stock for your portfolio.

Charlie Spargo
A forward for the true enthusiast. He doesn't get a massive number of possessions but does something useful with every one, often with a bemused look that suggests he doesn't entirely know how. Had some lean times early in his career but was super-important last year. Being amongst my favourite players is usually a curse, but in a side where about 32 players are in the running I hope it doesn't affect him too badly.

Tom Sparrow
If you can be underrated in a premiership side, he was. You never know how somebody's going to react to reaching the pinnacle of their career so early but I think he's got a lot of years in him.

Adam Tomlinson
Back from the dead before schedule, and just as a Harrison Petty style gap emerged in our premiership backline. Quality of opposition notwithstanding, he looked fantastic against North, good enough against Carlton, and has enough time to make the job his own before Petty comes back.

Jacob van Rooyen
Based entirely on one huge contested mark in a practice match I'm ready to declare him the future of our forward line. And if there's ever been a more likely kiss of death than that I'm yet to see it.


Club Administration
Roffey, Pert, board members etc... looked good in 2021, but people would be happy with Genghis Khan if he delivered a flag. This year is the real test. Will there be real progress on a decent training venue? Will our Bentleigh Club windfall be lost in a pyramid scheme? And how do you convert the club's highest point since decimal currency into a glorious future where we never have to worry about being merged or relocated again.

I'm for them all, but it was still a bit farcical when they complained about having to put on a costly postal ballot for a board election then neglected to include an amendment that would allow electronic voting in the future. I know postal votes are a great way to make sure your preferred candidates get up, but we're still not well off enough to burn $150k whenever some random wants to have a ping. Otherwise, everything was good.

Jake Bowey
For most seven game players the only way is up, but good luck matching the highs of his career to date. He'll have to lose a competitive game eventually, but has already demonstrated balls of steel that should see him well through his career. Will be interesting to see how he goes once the novelty wears off.

Kade Chandler
Stuck in a lengthy queue of small/medium forwards and likely to have to fight his way into the side. For some unknown reason the AFL is going with the same substitute rule (though, considering how hastily they introduced it you wouldn't rule out a change until the final siren of the first game), giving him the chance to waste more of his career sitting on the bench in a tracksuit. Based on what he's done in the last two pre-seasons I'm dying to see him play some proper AFL games.

Bayley Fritsch
As far as sporting mic drop moments go, not sure he's ever going to beat kicking six in a Grand Final. No sane person will hold him to that standard, and if he can get enough cover to avoid being swamped by defenders he should kick a fair few this year. Still prone to randomly going missing for entire games and apparently enjoys risking electrocution in his spare time.
Max Gawn
He's been up for so long I'm convinced this is the year he'll start to ease off (relatively speaking, not expecting him to unfurl a deckchair and sit in the pocket for 20 rounds) so Jackson can have more of the spotlight. We'll just have to settle for an increase in (literally) huge marks at either end. 

Simon Goodwin
Now that everyone's over that pissweak off-field scandal we can concentrate on how good it is that he's just the fourth man to coach us to a flag. The only problem is that the bar is set so high that he'll have to win another flag to improve his position. Go on then.
James Harmes
Reinvigorated when they gave up on stupid experiments and just played him as the bloody midfielder he was intended to be. Good. I still suspect that they consider him dispensable but I remain a big fan when he's used properly.

Michael Hibberd
Presumably his last season, and I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't make it until the end, but after erroneously writing him off several times in the last few years I'm satisfied for Hibbo to ride into the sunset without the pressure of having to live up to a buy recommendation.

Blake Howes
Anyone drafted due to an "array of developable talents" is unlikely to be seen at senior level in their first year. But you never know.

Bailey Laurie
Like most of our draftees he came along a decade too late, otherwise he'd have played 15 games by now. One of many players to be slaughtered by games being called off in 2020 then the VFL shutting down midway through the next year. Everything I've read implies he'll be good, and I'm assuming he'll get a crack at some point this year.

Jake Lever
Had a brilliant season and I suspect he'll be the next captain but am worried that every coach in the league will be devising ways to go around (or, for fans of outright Putin-esque thuggery, straight through) him.

Steven May
His 2020 was arguably better in a worse team than 2021 so there is some scope for improvement. Not much, he was a titanic figure last year, had the escape of a lifetime when his hamstring held together by the finest thread, and will go a long way to keeping us at the top of the ladder this year. It's only fear of things going wrong that stops me from declaring him a buy.

Judd McVee
Crazy name, not sure if crazy guy.

Andy Moniz-Wakefield
Wish him well, but for all I know could be a fictional character.

Alex Neal-Bullen
One of the surprise stories of last year, which instantly leads me to suspect he'll get more attention this time around. I'm sure he'll do a reliable job but I wouldn't take out a second mortgage to buy stock.

Harrison Petty
I had nothing but love for him last year, but the magical return of Tomlinson and a month out injured means he'll likely drop in value by the end of this year. A potential long term investment, because in a few years he'll be the perfect replacement for May. 

Kysaiah Pickett
So electric that he could power the MCG lights, and likely to provide a 12 minute highlights package at the end of the year but I'm scared about them ruining everything by playing him more as a midfielder. I love it as a shock tactic, but am terrified at unnecessarily dissolving our crumb. Whatever he can do in the middle can be done by others, nobody else is going to kick the mad goal against St Kilda when he did as much running as possible in the space of two seconds and three square metres.

Trent Rivers
Very much enjoyed his performances last year and was keen to have a motza on him. Lucky I dithered over this post long enough to know about his injury. Will walk back in when fit, but has to get to that point first.

Fraser Rosman
I was mad for him getting a go when things like shaky (well, as shaky as it got) mid-season but he was realistically never near it. You'll know they're expecting Brayshaw to go when ol' Fraiser Crane is fast-tracked onto the wing. 

Christian Salem
Anyone who has seriously watched Melbourne knows how good he is, stupid people are still tying themselves up in knots about a years -old trade that has benefitted both parties. Before his (seemingly) minor injury in the North game this would have been an unqualified, put yours and somebody you love's house on him. Now I'm poised for a massive stitch-up where he disappears for half a season.

Daniel Turner
Like an MFC branded Snakes and Ladders, he moved one square forward when Petty was injured, then dropped back with Tomlinson's return. One of many who could do with a proper VFL campaign (as much as you can in a league with byes dotted nonsensically through the fixture) before any serious decisions are made.

Jack Viney
Will be handy if he remains uninjured for more than eight weeks at a time, but a risky investment when history suggests his foot will peel off at some point.

Taj Woewodin
Fans of exotic names are salivating, and those of us who remember his dad's career feel like senior citizens. As good as Woey was, enough time has passed, and we're not desperate enough for saviours so Junior will be given plenty of time to develop without heavy pressure. Compare to what would have happened if we'd signed Wizard Jr, who would have been expected to continue the family business by kicking goals over his head every week.


Oskar Baker
Has been around for a while but it's just not happening. Perhaps one of our wingmen falls off the face of the earth and he gets a chance, otherwise I think we're going through the motions this season before he's wished well in his future endeavours. His transformation from Danny Bonaduce to Outlaw Biker will never be forgotten. 

Toby Bedford
Like so many others his career prospects have been affected by being around at high tide, because there's no doubt he'd have played a shitload more games in worse teams. Interested to see his VFL form and hope he sneaks in a few games so we can make an informed decision.

Angus Brayshaw
"Here we go again", you cry, "more Gus bashing. What more can he do except win a flag?" Please note, this recommendation has nothing to do with his performances - which were more than handy during our big run - but because I feel like other sides will dedicated effort to putting the brakes on him this year. He's also some chance of doing a bunk at the end of the year. I wouldn't self-harm over it, we're going to need a shitload of cap space to fit everyone in, and now that he's done his bit in a flag I'm happy for him to go and get golden rocket car rich somewhere else.

Mitch Brown
Would be quite aware of his status as a warm body in case of forward line injury crisis and it's hard to see him playing at all unless the plague rips through our list. At first I was surprised that they kept him, but it makes sense when you consider the potential to find quick replacements if players go down with whatever Ebola-like variant of COVID bubbles up during winter.

Majak Daw
See Brown, Mitch. Perhaps a slightly better chance at playing because he can be used in defence in an emergency.
This is promising to a rough year for content. Posts will come out late, probably without needlessly long word counts (you may consider this is a good thing), and my focus may be all over the place but stick with us and we'll get back to normal eventually. Probably just as the team turns shit again.
See above

Jayden Hunt
We were early adopters of Jayden's wacky Owl Energy gimmick, but missing the finals with injury might have been his undoing. Should try and get a job as a forward at a shit team where he'll play every week.

James Jordon
Technically played every game in his first year, but was on the slide towards the end and may have just held on long enough to warm the bench in the Grand Final. Showed a bit earlier in the year so I'm comfortable with him contributing for years to come but could be in and out of the side this year.

Tom McDonald
Second half of 2021 not as good as the first, but was still a fine cog in the wheel. Probably lucky the Weid doesn't seem to be going anywhere so he won't have any immediate pressure but could be in trouble at the end of the year. 

Jake Melksham
Must have been on the edge of being free to a good home at the end of last year, and has barely fired a shot since injuring his leg against Gold Coast two years ago. I'm hoping that this will lead to the same sort of the reverse moz that I   

Deakyn Smith
Beware putting your money into second year players who haven't gotten near a game yet. Not his fault that he's turned up just as we have a good side but we'll need a few Reserves game to assess.

Sam Weideman
We remain patiently waiting for the great leap forward. Didn't get much of a go in the pre-season but what there was failed to excite. Don't know why he stayed, but might wish he didn't after about 10 weeks in the VFL.

Betting markets

The following markets are entirely fictional, so don't a) complain, or b) do your house on a side bet with the neighbour. Any players who are added to the MFC list after this will be assigned an appropriately sky high price.

Allen Jakovich Medal for Player of the Year
$3 - Clayton Oliver
$5 - Christian Petracca
$10 - Christian Salem
$12 - Max Gawn
$14 - Luke Jackson, Jake Lever
$16 - Steven May
$22 - Ed Langdon, Jack Viney
$25 - Kysaiah Pickett
$30 - Angus Brayshaw, Bayley Fritsch
$45 - Ben Brown
$50 - Tom McDonald, Alex Neal-Bullen, Tom Sparrow
$60 - James Harmes, Trent Rivers
$70 - Michael Hibberd, Charlie Spargo
$75 - Jake Bowey, James Jordon
$80 - Luke Dunstan, Jayden Hunt
$90 - Jake Melksham, Sam Weideman
$100 - Harrison Petty
$125 - Kade Chandler, Joel Smith, Adam Tomlinson
$150 - Oskar Baker
$200 - Majak Daw
$250 - Toby Bedford, Bailey Laurie, Mitch Brown, Fraser Rosman
$275 - Blake Howes
$300 - Deakyn Smith, Jacob van Rooyen, Taj Woewodin
$500 - Judd McVee, Andy Moniz-Wakefield, Daniel Turner

Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year

$3 - Christian Salem
$5 - Jake Lever
$7 - Steven May
$18 - Michael Hibberd
$20 - Jake Bowey
$25 - Adam Tomlinson
$40 - Trent Rivers
$70 - Harrison Petty
$100 - Joel Smith
$150 - Daniel Turner
$200 - Tom McDonald
$250 - Majak Daw

Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year
$3 - Max Gawn
$7 - Luke Jackson
$50 - Majak Daw
$100 - Ben Brown, Tom McDonald
$150 - Sam Weideman

Jeff Hilton Rising Star Medal
For the first time ever, I think it's more likely that the listed players will fail to score than any of them getting one. Prove me wrong gentlemen.

$10 - Bailey Laurie
$12 - Toby Bedford, Fraser Rosman
$20 - Blake Howes, Deakyn Smith
$25 - Jacob van Rooyen
$30 - Taj Woewodin
$75 - Judd McVee, Andy Moniz-Wakefield, Daniel Turner

Projected Ladder
There's even more guess work in this than usual because I've had no interest (or respect) in what any other club has done in the off-season. I'm letting the Dogs finish top, because they'll be carried through the regular season on the wings of sooking about people singing some bullshit pop song.

1 - Footscray
2 - Brisbane
3 - Melbourne
4 - Port Adelaide
5 - Essendon
6 - Fremantle
7 - Richmond
8 - Sydney
9 - GWS
10 - Geelong
11 - West Coast
12 - Carlton
13 - Adelaide
14 - Collingwood
15 - St. Kilda
16 - North Melbourne
17 - Gold Coast
18 - Hawthorn

Demonblog's chosen 22 + 1
There's never been less drama in this segment. Other than Rivers and Petty missing the start of the year due to injury, I don't see much reason to tinker with the successful format.

B: Tomlinson, May, Hibberd
HB: Salem, Lever, Bowey
C: Langdon, Viney, Brayshaw
HF: Neal-Bullen, McDonald, Jackson
F: Fritsch, B. Brown, Pickett
Foll: Gawn, Oliver, Petracca
Int: Harmes, Sparrow, Jordon, Spargo
S: Chandler (just to make sure nobody is injured mid-match)

Will it be worth it?
You'd think so. Doesn't mean we're going to win the flag (see Richmond romping through 2018 then being dudded by a novelty player having the game of his life in a prelim) but we should still see a lot of memorable stuff. I'll be lucky to get to about five games this season. This horrifies me, but I'm sure you'll have a good time. I say it every year and never follow through, but you may be called on to provide a guest report during the season so please be ready.

Cheerio and Go Dees.

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