(This post simulcast on Every Day Is Like Sunday)
What a week. Surely no team has copped such a sustained pounding in the media than we did in the last seven or eight days since Fitzroy in 1996. And look how well they're doing now. Of course this wasn't without some justification as we had spent the last two weeks being beaten to a pulp, whilst our opposition have spent the last year winning pretty much every match/competition they have been involved in. Shitting it? Was I what.
Occasionally somebody would point out some freakishly absurd result from 1953 or something that would point to the fact that we were a chance. Didn't convince me - I expected ten goals minimum. As did the rest of the world. And of course as a moderately passionate (!) Melbourne supporter, well known locally for becoming exceedingly depressed over footy, friends, family and work colleagues were kind enough to spend the week forwarding emails and articles about how awful we were and how we were going to get tonked. Did I need to hear for the thousandth time that we were $31 to win the game? Especially given how that was clearly a gimmick market set up by peanuts trying to - successfully as it turned out - get their name in the paper. Hope they go bankrupt.
So down the Geelong Road we went. A day in Geelong? Oh Gnarly (skip to 1.08). Talk about wasted time. Were history not on the verge of being made I can think of 172 things that I would have rather been doing than visiting rural and regional Victoria. Usually I catch the train to the Kardinia Slops but damned if I was going to catch freaking V-Line home after we'd been tonked.
So, we were going to get hammered. Then we kicked the first goal. And second. And bugger me the third.
It's no wonder we jumped them early. After a week where they've been disrespected from every angle the boys were always going to come out at a million miles an hour, and when the opposition have spent the previous half an hour standing out on the arena waiting for some peanuts to parachute in with a Premiership flag they're hardly going to be 100% prepared for the first bounce. Most importantly, though, we scored first. Which meant that for those of you who joined me in having the $3.60 on Centrebet for that to happen then at least congratulation on winning a motza.
Still, no matter how obvious it was that it wasn't going to last I'll admit that I did start to wonder at 3 goals to squat whether or not we could pull off the miracle of the millenium. Of course we couldn't. First three to us, next seven to them. The first three of which came directly from our mistakes. The highlight of which was Carroll attempting to rush a ball through for a point, botching it and presenting Hawkins will a sitter. Jones was getting plenty of it but was seriously clang happy, with most his kicks more likely to murder a passing seagull than hit a teammate. Wonamierri was lively on debut and looks a good bet to play a fair bit this year, and both Miller and Johnson were surprisingly effective.
All in all the first quarter gave me hope for the rest of the season. Sure we were going to get beaten today - and probably flogged for that matter - but at least they were all over the Cats and forcing them into making mistakes. They made enough of their own to write a book (or at least a second rate blog post) on but everyone knew that was going to happen - the goal was to make sure everything the other way wasn't smooth sailing.
Incidentally, on Hawkins, welcome to the Kent Kingsley Klub. A moderate player who will show up once a year and play a decent game against us. May as well get fitted for your Richmond jumper now son.
To be entirely honest we were lucky that we didn't get blown to buggery early on during the second. After such a positive start we were generally abysmal and allowed them right back into it. Eventually we put the brakes on and stayed in touch. May I say how bizarre it was to see us dragging somebody down to our level rather than the other way around? Usually we're the ones who totally drop our bundle and look like tools when trying to play awful teams, but now that we are an awful team ourselves we uglied it down from a massacre to a mere serious beating instead. Wonderful!
A couple of late goals made it respectable at half time before something bizarre happened and midway through the third quarter we were within a goal. Now the locals were really panicking. Think bad to Sydney snapping their 20 something game losing streak against us in '93. I still haven't gotten over that now. Of course any sane person would sit there and go "congrats on your upset victory, by the way have you won a premiership recently?" but as we all know footy fans are generally stupid. Of course it didn't last long and after flirting with disaster the Cats fired up and took a four goal lead into the last quarter. Still not insurmountable (Essendon from 42 points down with Salmon after the siren anyone? I've got miserable results to cross reference until the cows come home), but not when you're a slopfest trying to take on a well oiled machine.
So in the end they won. What else do you need to know? I should point out at this time that the combined records of the teams we have played this year is now 9-0 after a possible 9 games. The gods of scheduling have thrown us straight into the footy woodchipper over the last few weeks. Today showed that we are not THAT bad. Just lacking the X Factor to do anything important this year. Somewhat reminscent of Carlton really where half the side are threatening to run riot and win a flag, but the other half wouldn't get a game in the D4 Amateurs. In fact if you combined us with Carlton that side might just make the 8 in the AFL while the ones left behind would probably run 7th in the Barnawartha League 2nd Division.
My kingdom for a forward line. Neitz isn't what he used to be - you can't rely on him to do everything on his own and Robbo is running around like a headless chicken a bit. Even though I don't particuarly rate him I'd love a big bastard KPP forward like Hawkins (or, if I can really play "Fantasy Wankfest" Franklin or Brown) down there to take some of the focus off Neitz. Look how much better our backline is with Carroll AND Rivers and imagine the same scenario up front. This should have been Miller's role - and while I liked his game today it's obvious that he's never going to be the forward target that he needs to be.
At least the AFL have fixed their website so that you can watch press conferences. A big round of applause to the reject who asked whether DB was tempted to shut the game down at 3 goals up. What was he supposed to do? Try and win 30-25? Stupidity. Four quarters of footy and that's the best question you can come up with? Die in hell. The way Bailey treated the question with contempt made me like him even more. I reckon when we finally win a game I'm going to run around and jump on him. In 2010.
There's a segment you never thought you'd see again eh? Well, it's not like I ran into the great man but I did find out that he apparently showed up last year, played one game for the Cats VFL side and pissed off. This leaves us asking where he is now. If he's somehow shacked up with Allen Jakovich I'm in.
Scored a free ticket off a friend to sit on the Hickey Stand wing. Good seats, good views, good times all around except for the footy. While I'm sure boganry was running riot on the terraces it was strangely absent. Maybe not so strangely when you consider I was the only Melbourne fan seemingly in the entire section, and that after our quick start the Cats fans were too shitscared to fire up in case we pulled off the comeback of the millenium.
They did spend the last quarter having kittens over the umpiring and calling for holding the ball whenever a Geelong player went within 2km of an opponent. You fell over the line against a nothing team - deal with it and get on with your life.
2007 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
This is a massively hard one, because I think we had about 10 players who are worthy of one or two votes and very few who were worthy of the maximum. How, then to seperate them? Go with gut feeling I suppose.
5 - Cameron Bruce
4 - Brock McLean
3 - Paul Johnson
2 - Cale Morton
1 - Jared Rivers
Apologies to Green, Miller, Wonamierri, Carroll, Dunn, Jones
No apologies to Wheatley (AT LEAST AIM FOR A TARGET!), White (decidely average) or Robertson (?!?!)
10 - Nathan Jones
6 - Cameron Bruce
6 - Brock McLean
6 - Paul Johnson
6 - Cale Morton (Leader: 2008 Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
4 - Brent Moloney
3 - Nathan Carroll (Leader: 2008 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
2 - James McDonald
1 - Brad Green
1 - Jared Rivers
K-Rock have the worst commentary team in the world. At times it was more like listening to the community radio call of a Diamond Valley League game than AFL. Even the lunatic who sat at the top of Telstra Dome and recorded his own call of the game at the North Melbourne game last year had a better grip on reality than these guys.
However, I will agree with them on one point. When it comes to McLean and Morton getting a thousand possessions each they DO NOT MATTER if they don't go anywhere. As Brock got his 20th one of them said "he can keep them, he's done nothing with them", and he was almost right. Still didn't excuse the fact that they didn't know who half the players were and spoke complete bollocks for four quarters. John Barnes is lucky that Andrew Jarman is still allowed near a microphone, because Jarman is the only person between JB and the title of "worst commentator in sports".
Mind you, on the strength of the first quarter of the Adelaide/Port game that I heard on the way home you'll have to go a long way to top Jars as the most irritating man in the world. I was seriously embarassed listening and had to turn off.
North at the MCG. So, everyone excepts an increasing better performance and we show up to get flogged by 200 then instead? Don't you know it baby. I'm there. Nervous breakdowns all round!