In the famous words of Rex Hunt "You have floored me. Absolutely floored me" The man who was alleged to have run down city alleyways with no strides on and payed for his rooting in coins might not have been talking about football that day but he may as well have been.
I've seen something today that I'm not sure actually happened yet. Like a soldier who ends up behind enemy lines, sees half his unit butchered and somehow guns his way out to glory I'm still not sure what the long term effects of this feeling I'm having will be, but for now it feels great to be alive. Like Rambo killing 500 people single handedly what Melbourne did today is something that nobody would believe in real life. Except it was real life, so screw you it's in the books and it happened.
If you didn't go to today's game you missed something special. Are interstate or overseas, permanently crippled, or had to work then you have an excuse. If you simply didn't show up because you didn't expect us to win then give yourself an uppercut, because the second half of today's game was one of the most special I have ever seen. It was like the fall of communism - after being oppressed for so long the people finally saw hope, and just when you expected it to be crushed by tanks the oppressors stepped aside and let them experience freedom. Of course, I would have preferred the Romanian model where we seized power violently and killed a few people along the way rather than doing it peacefully, but when you're living in a repressive dictatorship you take freedom wherever you can get it.
(Demonblog - the only website that gives you the Cold War footballing analogies that you need to get you through your work day)
As previously discussed I've written every single word that there is to describe a loss in the last couple of years, so let's almost completely ignore the first half. We were awful. Absolutely mince. Matthew Bate played one of the worst halves that I've ever seen, Pavlich did what he does best - stitching us up inside 50 - and Chris Tarrant of all people was murdering us. When you're being rumbled by the most overrated player of all time you may as well pull the pin and move the club to Orbost. We simply couldn't put a score on the board. The defence did reasonably well as usual given that the ball was down there every 30 seconds, with Jared Rivers - officially my favourite player - all over the place spoiling, hassling and doing all the stuff that you would never know about if you just looked at the stats. Moloney was shite, and Brock was getting plenty of the ball without actually doing anything with it.
We turned for half-time 51 points behind, and with all of three goals on the board. Everyone knows what was suppoeed to happen from there - another hundred point loss and nervous breakdowns all over the place. Then, something miraculous happened. Take this stat into account, you will hear and read it everywhere in the next few days, in over 110 years of VFL/AFL football only one team had ever come back from that far behind at half time to win. So, history and form were against us. That's what made that third quarter so much more amazing.
Suddenly, Freo stopped winning everything out of the centre. Mark Jamar played one of his best games ever in shutting down the Freo ruck department which, led by freaking giraffe Aaron Sandilands, had dominated the first half and almost carried the Dockers to a win over Geelong last week. Goals from Green, who had been kept quiet in the first half but played a great second, and Miller who had what must have been the best game of his career dragged us to within 40 points. Exactly what we'd seen every other week of the season - a bit of work in junk time when it didn't matter. Then Robbo kicked one before Aaron Davey put his annual contender in for goal of the year by selling more dummies in a 30 second period than ANY PLAYER EVER before goalling from 50 and we started to believe that maybe, just maybe something was going to happen.
Moloney and Bate, who had been putrid early came out all guns blazing and with the likes of Wheatley finally backing themselves to have a kick or take time to throw a handball around things were starting to look up. It's amazing how confidence was suddenly injected back into the players and the fans simultaneously. The announced crowd of 19.5k seemed to be suffering from the same sort of creative accounting that is usually only seen in the A-League, but with the majority of Freo fans below us in the Ponsford Stand the place was rocking when we started to climb back into it. The pressure of a weight simultaneously lifting off 15,000 people at the same time was infectious, and when Davey goalled again it was ON LIKE DONKEY KONG. With a quarter and a bit to play we were running riot over the Dockers. They had stopped. Then, just to take the piss Pavlich bobbed up after not being seen for the rest of the quarter to kick two in a row and blow the margin back out to five goals at the last change. We were still a chance but I honestly though that sank us. In retrospect it was probably better to cop them just before 3/4 time rather than after it because it meant that their momentum was stopped by the final change rather than gaining ground in the first few minutes of the 4th.
So, how about a third quarter comeback? Well, 32 points wouldn't have been our best ever but it would have to go close. In recent history only our wins at Optus Oval in 2003 and THAT final in 2000 have even produced comebacks of more than 20 points in the last quarter. That's in 2161 games since 1896. TWO FREAKING THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED GAMES PLUS. Are you starting to realise how unlikely this was?
Then, the last quarter starts and we erupt like I have rarely seen a Melbourne team before. This shit was like if they'd dropped the atomic bomb on Krakatoa. First Moloney made amends for some of his crimes early on, then Wonaeamirri - the biggest cult figure since early period Davey - got one. Miller added another, amongst some more great work around the ground and Robbo finally applied his 4th quarter heroics to a real situation rather than junk time to put us within ten points. Then down the other end douchebag Farmer (more on him later) benefited from Garland's wildly shite attempting at a spoil to steady the ship and give them back a double figures margin.
Enter the Robbo and Wona show. Robbo snaps one from the pocket to cancel out the Farmer goal, and then Wona adds two in a minute to put us in front and debut some of the most exciting goal celebrations seen in recent years. Seriously, he could get a government grant to do a tour of the flying, spinning frog dance move that he was pulling off today. He had four - he is a gun in the making. Still, it could have gone horribly wrong. How many times does a team drag itself back out of horror to stick it's nose in front and then get rolled anyway? Well, given that we had NEVER BEEN IN THIS SITUATION BEFORE (if I forgot to mention that...) I guess we weren't going to find out. Davey marked in the square and put us 8 points in front, but worrying there was still 6 minutes left. Plenty of time for us to shit it and give the game away. Green had a chance to win it and depending on who you asked either had the ball touched on the line or got jibbed out of a goal by an umpire who was on crack and couldn't see it cross the line. We weren't out of the woods yet, and suddenly Freo charged. Douchebag and Mundy both kicked points before Bruce had another chance to nail it and missed. 32 minutes in, the ball lands in Pavlich's arms down the other end and with more than enough time to get it out of the centre again things start to look grim. Thankfully with an unguarded goal square and time rapidly running out he hurried it and missed. Then we needed to get our kick-ins right for almost the first time in a decade. We turned it over once more for douche to add another point, and Daniel Bell was forced to kick out with just 1 second left. Game, set, match and some pretty wild scenes.
Actually I felt more like spewing than celebrating, but it was such a weight off that it wasn't funny. We will not be the first team in 40 years to not win a game, we are a chance of winning more than Fitzroy did in 1996. My mum did her bit for the family record of heart attacks by not being able to move post match due to massive back spasms. We're like that. Before she met me (!) she'd never been to a game and loosely claimed to be a Collingwood fan due to some family bullshit. Now she's losing the plot and having spasms over close results - I feel somewhat guilty.
Meanwhile, in a special Demonblog message to Jeff Farmer I'd simply like to say. COP THAT YOU PRICK. I was looking straight at your lips when you said "look at the scoreboard to one of our guys during that last quarter". Well, for your benefit lets take another look at that scoreboard now. If you're waiting for the replay, look away now...
Didn't quite get that? Put off by the chaos on the ground? Let's have a closer look.
Read my lips Jeff. If they hadn't been showing the 2000 Prelim on the big screen pre-match (which, may I say, is a great innovation and I would like to send a list of requests for them to show next) that featured you running riot and kicking 8 then it would have been even sweeter to watch you crash and burn.
2008 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
For the first time in so long it was a struggle to hand out votes. Under the Big Footy "vote for as many people as you want" system, I also had Davey, Green and McLean in as well. Davey was very stiff, Green played a great second half and McLean got a lot of the ball even if I'm not convinced he did as much with it as he could.
5 - Miller
4 - Rivers
3 - Wonaeamirri
2 - Robertson
1 - Jamar
Apologies to Bate (second half only), Carroll, Davey, Green, McLean, Warnock, Wheatley, White
14 - Nathan Jones
13 - Cameron Bruce
12 - Brad Green
9 - Brock McLean
8 - James McDonald
6 - Paul Johnson
6 - Cale Morton (Co-Leader: 2008 Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
6 - Austin Wonaeamirri (Co-Leader: 2008 Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
6 - Jared Rivers (Leader: 2008 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
5 - Brad Miller
4 - Brent Moloney
4 - Aaron Davey
3 - Nathan Carroll
3 - Lynden Dunn
3 - Jeff White
2 - Russell Robertson
1 - Mark Jamar
Nothing. Enjoy an extra week of being on a one match winning streak.
The Next Week
Adelaide away. Any danger of two in a row? I wouldn't hold your breath, you can be sure that Neil Craig and the other boffins at the Crows coaching institute will be doing exactly what I did and concentrating on the second half. They'll be as interested in where the Dockers went wrong as Mark Harvey will be. On paper they thump us, but after today who the fark knows what is supposed to happen anymore?
Last night - AFC Wimbledon win their promotion playoff 2-1 after being a goal down until the 83rd minute. Today Melbourne smash records to come back for a win. To quote Rex again.. "HOW GOOD IS THIS!"