Monday 22 August 2022

Thrash 'n Treasure

Last week I threatened to go hee and stay there if we were a premiership team. I'm not entirely convinced yet, but might spend the week doing research on just in case. For the conquering heroes went to a sold-out Gabba and returned having royally stuffed the locals, offering Melbourne fans last round memories from that ground other than collapsing in the last quarter and missing finals. 

There were some less savoury memorable moments too, as we discovered that some people don't know where macho head games end and low-blow personal sledging begins. More on morons later. For now, let's concentrate on absolutely clobbering the Lions. Having already done it once this year I thought there was no chance of a repeat. We'd caught them by surprise earlier in the year coming off a string of losses, but surely they'd learnt lessons that could be applied in a straight win/loss contest for a double chance, in front of a relatively massive home crowd? Apparently not, because as much as the Lions tried to engineer a thrusting, manly atmosphere, they folded like a house of cards under pressure. 

On the other hand, we played as well as any time since that last battering, ensuring that the lofty ladder position we'd set up by winning the first 10 games didn't ebb sadly into the humiliation of an Elimination Final. Now we take a week off and return for another crack at September with our tails up. And after last year, which team would you trust more to hold their form across breaks at this time of the year? We had more byes than the VFL on our to way to the flag and it didn't hurt us a bit. Might be time to lock everyone in a compound again. 

Contrary to popular belief, I was not responsible for Channel 7's pre-match entertainment. You can tell, because I'd have live traded Brian Taylor to TVSN for the Phillips XXL Airfryer. Somebody sympathetic to the cause must have been involved, because it started with Mark Jamar reminiscing about when he and Brent Moloney rooted Adelaide, then switched to footage of Gawn thumping the ball into the face of a GWS comedy wig wanker. Later Corey Wagner was seen hanging over the fence in celebration, and if they'd just been able to work in a mention of that other great Queensland product The Spencil I'd have achieved total ecstasy.

The road to our second consecutive top end finish hasn't always been pretty, and we could have won this by a massive margin that would have rendered Sydney's percentage irrelevant, but if you're old enough to remember Jamar and Moloney then you'll appreciate that these are still wondrous times. If we plummet out of the finals in straight sets you probably won't hear from me for a month but please consult all the final round posts from 2007 to 2017 and tell me this isn't a better way to live your life. There's a different brand of terror in watching your team have to continuously prove that they're still good, but it beats following... just plucking a random name out here... Essendon.

After sneaking over the line in the dead of night last week, this was the little dollop of wallop we needed to kick off the campaign for Flag XIV. It's one thing to do a Geelong 2018 and beat rubbish in your last two games by 280 points combined then melt under finals pressure, tonking a contender in this fashion is as good a setup for finals as we're going to get. Whether it translates to actual success nobody knows, and I don't know if it would have struck fear into the other contenders as much as the commentators would have you believe, but in the immortal words of Greg Champion we've given ourselves EPC - every possible chance.

The game itself will be forgotten because of the extended second half junktime and off-colour shenanigans, but the first 60 minutes of footage will comfortably fit on a compiliation of our greatest home and away hits. Unlike last time we didn't even have to execute the old rope-a-dope and wait for the Lions to blow themselves up missing multiple opportunities first. This was literally good from the bounce, before a second quarter that exploded with the intensity of commandos doing a hostage rescue left us 11 goals in front at half time. If that seemed unusual it certainly was, equalling our sixth largest half time lead ever

I think I've been at more than six games when we've been further behind at the half, so good to not only belt somebody, but to do it in an important game. For obvious reasons the excitement value fell short of the Prelim/Grand Final rampages, but if we're lucky it will be looked back on as fondly as Gawn changing the course of history after the siren at Kardinia Park. Even if we get rompered in straight sets, this will still be remembered as one of the most entertaining first halves of all time once the sooking subsides.

The icing on the cake of our best start since dear old 1998 was steamrolling through an obviously pre-planned, horribly backfiring, and funny for the first three quarters campaign of niggle that was as intimidating as being flogged with a warm lettuce. This may have been why they had pictures of umpires up for players to study, but it wasn't much help. My favourite bit of their entrance was the two blokes holding whiteboards up with tactical information that not one player even looked at while running past. It's good to get your priorities straight.

Brisbane's agitation coordinator was Dayne Zorko, a luxury version of Tom Bugg who has somehow blagged his way into captaining an AFL side for several years. He obviously agrees with our views that the number one thing footy needs is hateable villains, because he led their disastrous campaign to put us off via physicality from the front. Dayne, mate, our players punch on with each other in their spare time, why did you think this was going to get you anywhere? No wonder he turned to the NQR verbal gear when his mates gave up and left him fighting a sad, one man war that had been lost an hour earlier.

If the Lions planned to do half-hearted biff at the first bounce, none of them got a chance before Pickett carried on where he left off last week. His goal 15 seconds in was like taking a wicket on the last ball of one test, then another on the first ball of the next. Hopefully the Lions fan who joined in the racism last week enjoyed this and three more while her team swirled down the toilet. Stick that, and I can't stress this clearly enough, up your arse.

We've been involved in a lot of weird games this year, often ending in us kicking a higher score than usual and still losing, but when Jackson won his own clearance and nearly set Petracca up for a second I was about to kick back and light a cigar Brayshaw style. And didn't we swizz them a treat by bringing Harmes back in to presumably tag Neale, then sending Gus to him instead. That's what you want in a midfield, players who can perform so many roles that opposition coaches are left rifling through Plan B, C and D envelopes 30 seconds into the first quarter. You know who our key defenders are going to, you certainly know which tall forward we're going to kick it towards, versatility in the middle of the ground could be the all-important surprise element when the real stuff begins.

That Jackson clearance kicked off his best game for ages. I'm resigned to him going, but there's time to depart with a) more silverware, and b) an asking price inflated like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. This demonstrated why it would roping him into staying would be unbelievable, even if only for another couple of years. But when he was subbed off as a precaution with a knee complaint during the last quarter I did wonder what would happen if he completely wrecked himself before the end of the year? Do Freo suddenly remember several hundred thousand dollars of unknown salary cap pressure and walk away, or do they carry on with the long term plan and cross fingers that there's no long term damage. Let's hope it doesn't come to that, every premiership player is sacred so I'm wishing that he has the run of a lifetime over the next few weeks, then has a long, profitable career in a side that never wins a thing.

We still got the second goal, and while that's par for the course now our problem is usually what comes next. In this case, many more goals. First we had to survive a set shot from Charlie Cameron, who missed, then went into the witness protection program. His follow up to being held to nothing by Michael Hibberd last time, was being held to nothing by Michael Hibberd this time. His kick didn't even make the distance, and if you can ever judge a team by its first few minutes the Lions weren't in any state to take advantage of our casual approach to keeping leads.

We took advantage of this miss via the most unlikely source in the team. Eric Hipwood - looking even more like a surly 14-year-old girl than ever - clattered into Lever in a marking contest, giving away a 50 that left Jake close enough to justifiably have a shot without the media pursuing him through the streets like a common criminal Bayley Fritsch style. 

As the man who set up Gawn in Geelong, and had a major contribution towards Pickett vs Carlton I wouldn't have cared if Jake had a ping from 65 metres out on the boundary line, he deserved a chance to get amongst the action. 

That he did, landing the ball the barest possible margin over the line, setting up off one of the great goal celebrations, as he nearly had a seizure from the shock of it all. Considering how narrowly it went over, credit to the umpires for not ruining the moment with a pointless video review. 

He'd kicked three goals at Adelaide, but 77 games game without one in our colours was the third longest streak ever. Only one man has ever broken his duck later. The McSizzle brothers have still got him covered between them, taking a combined 134 games to break the drought. One went on with goalkicking, the other plays for Carlton. I doubt Lever will follow either of their paths, but it's nice to know we've got somebody else who can bomb a long kick at goal in an emergency.

Lever's first goal in years was heartwarming human drama, but I was still panicking about the Lions getting their hands on the ball and making a game of it. Not soon enough to stop us kicking a fourth, but when our dominance was briefly interrupted by a Joe Daniher goal from the next bounce I thought that might have prompted them to get involved. After playing against us like he's got a wooden leg for years, this was a rare flawless outing in front of goal for Joe. He made up for it with a shithouse field kick that butchered any slim momentum his side was building after half-time.

That goal was only the slightest resistance against unstoppable tide. After recovering a goal in the shortest possible time, they gave it back almost as quickly. Brown got this one, and after coming in for all sorts of criticism from 'measured' to 'positively stupid' over the last few weeks, I was pleased that he had his best game since Round 1. 

In a measure of how ridiculously this game started - and how badly Brisbane kicked inside 50 - Brown even took a relieving mark in the back pocket at one point during the first quarter. Anyone who still treats inside 50s as a meaningful stat should have already been carted off to the funny farm, but this proved beyond all doubt how useless they are as a measurement. The most inefficient attacking team on the face of the planet had nearly 10% fewer than our season average but kicked goals from every available angle, while Brisbane racked them up by the dozen for no benefit other than padding the stats of our defenders. If somebody tries to make a serious footy point where inside 50s are a key factor, treat them like a used car salesman trying to flog you a 1999 Daihatsu Charade.

It was a big night for Brown trying new things, which nearly ended in tragedy when he tried to glide gracefully through the midfield like Christian Petracca and was cannoned headfirst into the hardest part of the ground. What would otherwise have been an obvious holding the ball ended in the free going the other way, Brown going off for a concussion test with his face looking like it had been sandpapered, and Cameron Rayner suspended. 

I've got sympathy for Rayner, who had no malicious intent, but now that the league's going through the motions on concussion you're rooted for driving anybody's head into the ground. If Brisbane challenge I'd advise not calling the captain as a character witness. I've got less sympathy for said captain, who was mown down by a Langdon tackle, and responded by rolling him into a headlock and possibly having a yank of the hair while complaining to one of the umpires whose profile he'd studied in the rooms. If he'd stuck to that sort of thing it would have been declared 'good for football'.

At this point I thought Brown was finished. My mind immediately went to "thank god for the bye week" so he could run out his concussion period and be back in time for the next game. Maybe his gigantic fluffy hair provided a safety cushion, because he returned after quarter time with no ill effects. Good news for us, bad news for medical sub James Jordon. After playing every game until now, and seemingly confirming his spot on the wing, he found himself having 2021 flashbacks after being relegated to the Chandler/Bedford onlooker role. He got a brief run in the last quarter when we finally joined in the rorting of the sub rule to take Jackson off, and must have been wondering where that sort of courtesy was 11 months earlier in Perth. 

It was almost time to breathe into a paper bag when Langdon did his Melksham impersonation and took a pack mark for the fifth, before a piece of Carltonian time-wasting gifted us another on the siren. Like the Blues, their efforts to casually dink the ball around and take time off the clock were thwarted by somebody missing a simple kick, and Mr. K. Pickett of Woodville/West Torrens extended the margin beyond 30 points at quarter time. This was both outrageous from a football perspective, outrageously fun for non-Lions viewers, and an outrageous strain on my health. 

Imagine being somebody who could relax at just five goals up with three quarters to play. As I was decompressed from the Carlton game by lamenting how close we'd come to disaster, one onlooker said "can't you ever just be happy?" Thanks for asking, the answer is yes. I found perfect harmony with about 10 minutes to go in the Grand Final, everything else is just working towards another moment like that. Maybe this year, maybe when I'm 78, maybe never, but at least it happened once. It will certainly never happen, as enjoyable as this was, at quarter time.

Statistically, there wasn't much chance of losing from here, and if we weren't playing a top(ish) side I'd almost have believed it without waiting to cross the Chris Sullivan Line. Then the Lions belatedly had a go for a few minutes and obviously my first thought was that we'd end the night humiliated, the victims of memorable collapse. We survived Neale dashing out of the first bounce and trying a dainty chip from 40 metres that didn't score, but they got one a couple of minutes later, and when another centre clearance led to a shot straight after, the fundamental orifice noticeably tightened. 

Then the Lions put on a tribute to Fitzroy and Bears of old by giving up. Appropriately the two varieties of lion are the only sides we've had equal or bigger half time leads against since I started watching footy. By midway through the quarter Brown had recovered from his face-first meeting with centre wicket to kick a second, Pickett was hoovering crumbs like a robot vaccuum, and there was a bit of tits up about the locals. 

In a repeat of the 2021 finals, a respectable lead erupted into a massive game-winning margin at the drop of a hat. You didn't really know how it happened until you watched a replay, but you instinctively knew it was good. Against the odds, I've seen a lot of fun games since the 1989 Elimination Final but landslides in important matches stick with you forever. As will Alex Neal-Bullen unloading a power chunder for the ages. For all the scorn poured on Channel 7's coverage, randomly zooming in and out like the director is pissed, they delivered the goods by focusing on him just before the eruption. I thought his guts had been affected by walking into 350 tackles in the last month, but it turns out he'd been walloped behind play by somebody who didn't fancy playing an Elimination Final.

Things were progressing so well that Petracca got one with a novelty bounce that went roughly the only way it could to avoid all the defenders, and we were already effectively in the sheds with top four sewn up. Rather than Mad Minute stuff, this was 15 minutes of tormenting players who looked like they'd rather be anywhere else. Chris Fagan spent the whole time looking on from the bench as if he was about to strangle somebody with a headphone cord. Our former Reserves coach didn't seem to be taking any comfort from his MFC life membership. By the time Fritsch got a piss easy one from close range I ran around the room in excitement.

At this stage of his career, praising Clayton Oliver is like telling Da Vinci that he paints a good ceiling, but this was the perfect example of a game where less was more. I'll take his 30 possessions here over some of the +40s any day of the week. He may have hair like 2 Minute Noodles and a regrettable moustache, but he's the greatest non-mechanical extractor ever invented. This performance could have won him a Brownlow, and if they're going to give them exclusively to midfielders anyway he might as well hang one in the trophy cabinet alongside a premiership, several best and fairests, and however many digital awards with all the value of an NFT that this site will give him before he's done. 

A 10 goal lead late in the second quarter of a game I'd expected to be a 50/50 proposition was scarcely believable, so when Brown beat four defenders before goalling after the siren I was ready to go the airport and throw rose petals on the ground - Bombers fans to James Hird style - when the team got back to Victoria. The bit I liked was how our defenders were marking everything that came within their postcode, while Brisbane's were either spoiling out of bounds, or into positions that set Pickett up to do Picketty things. It was a tremendously disorganised performance from the Lions, and I fear we're going to struggle to find anyone else in the finals with that sort of cavalier attitude to life. 

Conceding an enormous first half score that all but destroyed your chances of winning a flag would be enough to make most players slink into the rooms with tails between their legs. Not Captain Controversy, who kept up the niggle beyond the point where anyone was taking him seriously. For now our players just laughed in his face, while his teammates realised they were following General Custer into battle and tried to avoid being dragged into looking silly. Turns out this was just encouraging him to come up with new material.

Obviously, the night would have been better if we'd gone on with it after half time and won by an enormous margin, but that's a minor quibble. I didn't see it happening at the time, they couldn't have played any worse, so as long as there wasn't mass Hari Kari amongst the maroon wearers I thought the margin would hover around the same area for the rest of the night. And it did, but not before they whacked through a couple of goals that briefly had me thinking about the greatest comebacks in history

Obviously it wasn't going this way, but it was like knowing how unlikely you are to die in a plane crash but still panicking during takeoff. If I know anything about Huge McLuggage it's that he can't kick set shots for shit, so if there was ever a scenario that was going to kick off Miracle On Grass II it was him landing one from an obscure angle. This finally encouraged the crowd to come back to life, giving them something legitimate to get excited about instead of just acting like they were in a Price Is Right studio audience after spotting themselves on the scoreboard.

Even if they'd kicked the next goal from 20 metres out we'd still have been eight in front, but Daniher blowing the pass that set ended in another Fritsch goal was absolute confirmation that nothing short of a North Korean nuclear strike could stop us from here. Given what happened with both the play and the spicy chat, it would have been better for everyone if both sides had just shaken hands and walked off after Petracca improbably squeezed one through a pack.

It was back to 70 points at three quarter time when our old friend Zorko (has won a 'Q Clash') decided to exercise the nuclear sledging option against Harrison Petty (has won an AFL Premiership). It's probably the same sort of uncouth material he does every week, except this time the reaction exposed him. Stiff shit, live by the sword, die by the sword. 

The last quarter doesn't need any description, because the whole thing was a sideshow to the Petty/Zorko incident. They kicked a couple of consolation goals, our players spent 30 minutes telling the opposition captain to modify his behaviour, and ultimately the only damage was to a single reputation. 

By the time you read this there will be 250 versions of what he supposedly said, and 10x as many manly men going out of their way to assure you that NOTHING anybody said could EVER make them cry. I don't need to know the exact words that were said, especially if it violates the privacy of a third party, and if players and clubs are happy to sort it out between themselves that's enough for me, but it still begs the question of how you go on as captain of a club after carrying on like this. 

There's been a lot of "whatever he said must have been bad" due to the emotional response. I'm sure it was, but I wonder what the reaction would have been if Petty didn't have to behave himself on the eve of the finals. Violence is bad etc... etc... but if the same thing had happened to a player with nothing to lose, would the comments have been followed by Zorko flying arse over tit into Row A?

Other than laughing at the idea of a captain being lippy with anyone after leading his side into slaughter, I'm not going to tee off on Zorko like a mass murderer. I wouldn't shake his hand if you paid me, but every fanbase in the competition has turned a blind eye to players saying or doing worse. Let him melt in his own mess. You've got to work hard to be considered a bigger heel than the teammate who thinks the murder of 27 schoolchildren was staged for political purposes. 

The game petered out to absolutely nothing by the end, so the real action surrounded what would happen at the final siren. You didn't need to be Law and Order: Sledging Unit to realise he was in the frame for the Petty incident from the way our players treated him during the quarter. It's comical that he spent the immediate aftermath, especially when bailed up by Steven May, furiously denying his comments, then admitting responsibility anyway. I suppose when you've got form for being a turd everyone's just going assume you're guulty so it's easier just to own up. Other highlights included Trent Rivers treating him like some pisshead who'd tried to shake his hand after jumping the fence.

My interest in other clubs usually begins and ends with the first and final sirens when playing against us, but I'm surprised at how few Lions fans went into siege mentality mode and defended him. It's one thing for a kid, or some Patrick McGinnity-style non-entity to say weird shit, but how embarrassed would you be to have this guy as your captain? The joke will be on me if he leads them to a flag on September 24, but on the most recent evidence there's flying the flag and there's flying your dignity out the window. Usually I'd want any interstate team to win the premiership if we don't, now Brisbane is out of the running due to spite. If they play like this again they'll also be out of the running due to being shite.

Back to the winners. We were bloody good when we needed to be, and coasted the rest of the way home. It would have come back to haunt us if St Kilda hadn't put on a decent show against the Swans, but all was well that ended well. We'll find out on Friday week how much of the first half was down to us, and how much came from the opposition neglecting to turn up. 

The good news for neutrals who just bloody love chaos is that there's a very real chance of us playing the Lions again during the finals, but for the rest of us you've got just under two weeks to imagine a future where things turn out just how you want them. No matter how hard anyone tries, nobody can diminish last year just because it was played in a strange location, but the missing piece of the puzzle is still winning one at home. It might happen in just over a month, and with two entries in the lottery we won't have anyone else to blame if it doesn't. Bring it on as quickly as possible.

2022 Allen Jakovich Medal votes
5 - Clayton Oliver
4 - Kysaiah Pickett
3 - Christian Petracca
2 - Michael Hibberd
1 - Luke Jackson

Major apologies to Fritsch, Lever and May. Lots of apologies to many others. 

There are a minimum of two games to play, but by the time we reconvene this may be over. Regardless of what the contenders do in the next game there's no chance for Petracca if we win. I'm sure he'll be happy to sacrifice himself for the greater good of the team, so I'm prepared to call this one. Congratulations to provisional winner Clayton Oliver, who takes the title for a fourth time, leaving him one short of Nathan Jones' record. I think he'll probably get that in the end.

Likewise, in the minors there doesn't seem to be any likelihood of Petty pulling 14 votes back on May, so unless Brayshaw goes for a Supreme Court injunction this one's finished too. And despite giving one vote back to Jackson, Maximum can't be beaten under any legal circumstances so he officially pockets a ninth Stynes. Can't believe I've been at this so long that Jeff White won the first three. 

The Hilton remains... uninspiring, but there's still some drama on the horizon. Get ready for the fourth running of the Gary Lyon Medal for Finals Player of the Year. Everyone goes into the pool, we take the totals of the next 2-4 games only and a midfielder ends up winning. Get amongst it.

63 - Clayton Oliver (PROVISIONAL WINNER: Allen Jakovich Medal for Player of the Year)
--- Can't win without four finals ---
45 - Christian Petracca
--- Can't win full stop ---
35 - Jack Viney
27 - Max Gawn (WINNER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
25 - Angus Brayshaw
24 - Steven May (PROVISIONAL WINNER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
21 - Ed Langdon
12 - Kysaiah Pickett
10 - Harrison Petty
9 - Jake Bowey
7 - Bayley Fritsch
6 - Luke Jackson, Jake Lever, Alex Neal-Bullen
5 - James Harmes, Michael Hibberd, James Jordon, Jake Melksham
4 - Tom Sparrow
3 - Ben Brown, Christian Salem
2 - Adam Tomlinson
1 - Toby Bedford (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Rising Star Medal), Tom McDonald, Charlie Spargo, Sam Weideman

Aaron Davey Medal for Goal of the Year
I know junk time had well and truly arrived by this point, but I'm still fond of Petracca doing an old fashioned spelunk through traffic to wobble one home. It gets bonus points for being just the sort of goal that makes you want to self-harm when your side has already put in a rotten performance. It's funny because it didn't happen to us. Apologies to the Pickett one where he changed direction a couple of times before snapping.
No change to the overall leaderboard.  

1st - Pickett vs Carlton
2nd - Langdon vs Essendon
3rd - Pickett vs Port (this one)

Next week
AFLW gets one week in the sun before men's finals coverage squeezes all the oxygen out of it for a month. I'm sure changing the season so the opening rounds are played against the most eagerly anticipated games in the other competition's calendar suits somebody but I reckon it's shithouse. And I know I've said this year every year, but we're definitely going to need a guest reporter or two during the season - I'm burnt out as anything just doing the men's reports without trying to watch and write W reviews in the middle of a finals campaign. Apply via the usual channels.

The week after that
We've got a semi. For the first time in 3.5 decades it's a final against the Swans, and it's at home. This was probably the most likely outcome of a huge Sunday for fans of the live ladder. I had nightmare visions of St Kilda, who kindly recalled Dean Kent for his 100th and last game then made him medical sub, crumbling under disinterest and allowing them to cover the required margin but they never went close. That was nice of them. There were brief periods during the afternoon where we were in the frame to play Freo and Collingwood, but as much as the latter would have brought the house down it's probably a good thing that Sydney 

As for the Blues, their result ended up having no impact on us whatsoever, so the only reason I mention their tremendous collapse is to say I feel bad for all normally functioning Carlton fans, but hope whoever wrote this tweet after we stuffed up the 2017 finals had the worst Sunday night imaginable.
The best bit for me, though probably not anyone else considering my recent record, is that the game has landed in the one timeslot next weekend where I can go. Had it been played up there I wouldn't have felt bad about not being there live (although I did have a casual look at flights for Thursday - Saturday before their game started, just in case), but would cracked the shits in epic fashion if I'd been unable to see us play an MCG final. Thank you to whoever in AFL land recognised all the nice things I've said about them over the years and delivered this blessed fixture. Added bonus - as Brisbane play before us we'll know if a loss will mean a sooner than expected Zorko vs Everybody rematch. 

I don't know what to think about our chances. We lost to them in Round 12 as part of a fortnight where our forward line had practically ceased to exist and May was recovering from a concussion/thinking about a night out in a fancy French restaurant. I'm sure they've got players who weren't available last time as well, but logic suggests we won't have to rely on a forward line of Gawn/Fritsch/thin air this time. You don't want to say it, but I think we might win. If not there really is always next week.

The first change writes itself, Bowey did very little wrong but if Salem's fit I've got to have him. Otherwise, excepting horses for courses moves that are well above my level of comprehension, do we need to do anything? Despite the joy that his epic barfing has given the world I'm still off ANB, but am willing to accept that he's playing a part in the system that nobody else will replicate. And Harmes stays, now that we've pulled the wool over Brisbane's eyes let's have him tag some poor sap while Brayshaw returns to patrolling the premiership wing.

Long-term, there's an outside chance of a McSizzle comeback. He's going to play three quarters in the VFL finals, and while I doubt they tinker with a winning formula straight away, the option of playing him will be there in later weeks. I wouldn't underestimate how important he was to us in the first half of the year, but at the moment you could argue that Melksham is doing just as good a job from a different perspective. Either way, nice to have options, and nice to have extra games to implement them no matter what happens.

IN: Salem
OUT: Bowey (omit)
LUCKY: Neal-Bullen

Final thoughts
Six months of warmup madness ends, the most important month begins. Despite having just watched one of the best wins of the season, the prospect of playing finals stressed me so badly that I stopped off for a Zinger burger on the way home, then ate another truckload of shit at home, couldn't sleep all night and woke up in a foul mood. The September pressure is getting to me and the month doesn't start for another week.


  1. Wasn't Michelangelo the ceiling painter, or was that the point?


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