Thursday 21 September 2023

Emergency Broadcast System

We already covered my guilt over letting my angst at men's results cloud my experience of watching the women last week, but you can double/triple/multiple by infinity when we had a game less than 24 hours after 10 months of emotional commitment was nuked in the blink of an eye on Friday night. I could have done without football, and perhaps sports in general, for a long time but am so drawn to anything with MFC written on it that I powered through the sweat-heavy drench of misery to back up the next day.

Thanks then to MFCW enthusiast Craig T for stepping in with a surprise guest report. Welcome to the family Craig, and over to you. I'll be back in the italics, then permanently from the leaderboard section onwards.

I'll start by saying that a team must be doing reasonably well, or my expectations are too high, when you walk away somewhat disappointed by a 42 point win. But as I trudged through the Casey Fields car park on my way to the 897 bus stop outside that's exactly how I felt.

My main disappointment was allowing the Dogs to score as freely as they did for the first three quarters. I've become accustomed to this team being incredibly stingy (last season we were, on points conceded per game, the best team in AFLW history), but there they were sitting on 41 points at three quarter time. Perhaps I need to put that into perspective - two goals came (one directly/one indirectly) from dropped marks, including one from the usually highly reliable Tahlia Gillard. Another was, how shall I put it politely.... "arsey", as Kirsty Lamb picked the ball up a fair way out on the boundary, went bang in the general direction of goal without looking, only to see it sail through. And another followed a textbook holding the ball/incorrect disposal that wasn't paid. Maybe it was my Demon Bias coming through, but we seemed to be getting a hell of a bad run with the bounce of the ball.

Despite these irritating goals, I always had the feeling we'd eventually pull away, which of course we did in the last quarter (Current fourth quarter record for 2023, including practice games- 20.12 to 0.5. Ouch). We just had too many avenues to goal for them to cover, the loss of Alyssa Bannan to injury and their fortunate forward success notwithstanding. Two goals each to Gay, Mithen, and Paxman, none usually known for their scoring power, underlined our offensive capacity.

The worst moment of the match was when Bannan went down in front of goal when tackled while snapping. Amidst the tangle of legs and bodies, even from my distant position on the wing I could see it didn't look good. The way she was in obvious pain convinced me she'd done the dreaded ACL. A quick glance at the video on the AFLW website at half time did nothing to dissuade me of that fear. Time for Aimee Mackin, highly touted sister of Blaithin, to be unleashed next week perhaps (One report, one prediction correct. Puts my 13% strike rate to shame). 

You can imagine my relief when I returned home after the three day trip to Casey to discover it wasn't a knee but an ankle, and coach Mick was even talking up the possibility of her being back next week. I know Bannan is young, fit, and probably heals at a rate an old codger like me can only dream about, but given how she looked when being helped off it would be the greatest comeback since Lazarus. I'd be betting on a week or two, but having her back for the matches against Geelong and Adelaide would be greatly appreciated, thank you very much.

What can be said about Kate Hore? It was obvious when we recruited her in 2018 that she was a great natural athlete and had promise as a mid-sized forward, but to see her become the complete footballer she is now has been amazing. With two goals here she became the outright leading goalkicker in the history of the comp, which is outstanding for someone who spends as much time on the ball as forward.

Ellie Blackburn, as always, was outstanding for the Dogs, but as has become tradition an opposition midfielder tore it up in the first half until Shelley Heath significantly quelled her influence while winning plenty of the ball herself. I can't speak highly enough of Heath. To quote the Bard, though she be little, she is fierce.

There are times I can't help think this team plays like millionaires (or should that be billionaires these days?), knowing they'll always have enough in reserve to cover any eventuality. This victory gave them 12 straight wins, a competition record, and in that time they haven't conceded a single last quarter goal. It's hard to criticise that performance, but I feel they've dropped off a little in defence this year and conceded a few too many easy goals. Perhaps Sarah Lampard spending more time out of defence and Heath busy shutting down midfielders has come at a cost. Libby Birch seems a little off, and I can't help wonder if Gabby Colvin wouldn't add a bit of true defensive steel and shutdown ability. When we play North and their three tall forwards I think Gabby is a must to return. 

I concur and endorse all of the above, but would late to wave two offensive fingers at Kayo for randomly jumping forward a few minutes at the end of the second quarter, spoiling the surprise that we let them kick two goals, then wiped one of them out from the middle with seconds left. Otherwise, it was as professional a performance as you could ask for, and more proof that while teams that tormented us in the early years of the competition have dropped off we'll keep operating at full power under the league breaks us up like Standard Oil.

2023 Daisy Pearce Medal votes
5 - Tyla Hanks
4 - Kate Hore
3 - Tayla Harris
2 - Lauren Pearce
1 - Shelley Heath

Apologies to Gay, Paxy, Mithen, Zanker and Mackin.

Yeah, everyone except H&H (related - I only just found out that H&H Bagels from Seinfeld was a real company. The more you know) is stuffed. There's still around 50 votes available but you'll do well to pick off a two BOG lead this early in the piece. And can anyone seriously object? They're miles ahead of anyone else. And please, enjoy the roadblock of contenders on three. I don't think I've ever seen that before.

14 - Tyla Hanks
13 - Kate Hore
4 - Tayla Harris
3 - Shelley Heath, Sarah Lampard (LEADER: Defender of the Year), Blathin Mackin, Lauren Pearce (LEADER: Defender of the Year)

Goal of the Week 

There was more crumb on offer than the Tip Top factory, but the best was Hore's in Q1 where she gathered a rolling inside 50 on her toes, turned around and kicked the snap. And because she deserves all the medals (no, I'm not guilty about underrating her in last year's medal count, not at all) that's a new leader in the season award.

1st - Kate Hore (Q1 #2) vs GWS
2nd - Eden Zanker (Q2) vs Collingwood
3rd - Shelley Heath (Q4) vs Collingwood

Next week
I'm so late with the post it's become 'this week'. It was only when I realised we were playing Friday night that it put a rocket up me to do this. We already know Aimee Mackin is debuting a month after arriving in Australia, a process that worked well for her premiership winning/future life member sister, but does feel like a bit of "we don't think the Hawks are any good". And given that our pre-season meeting ended with them goalless that may be valid. All will be revealed at the offensive time of 5.05pm. I know they're trying to jam it in before the men's final but I don't think Collingwood in a Prelim needs the help, how about something for those of us who really, really, REALLY want alternative viewing. Stranger things have happened but this time we win comfortably. 

Final Thoughts
I've got a blank space on my wall where certain other premiership merchandise will not be going, this team more than deserves to take it.

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