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Dappa Dan

Year in review - On the field

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Disgusted with the assertion that the dogs were the best Victorian team last season and that they are the logical challengers for a top-4 spot next year. I can live with Freo being a top-4 candidate. They made it this year, beat us soundly, and topped up with trades. But there's NO WAY that the dogs were "certainly" the best of the ten Victorian clubs.

We finished higher on the ladder after H&A, beat them by more than they beat us earlier in the season, and also finished higher after finals! After losing the first 3 games we spent 8 weeks in the top 4, to their 9, but were only 1 win in round 22 from making it. They were clear in 8th spot. We were also the better side at the business end of the season (after round 15) as evidenced by the fact that we thrashed them by 8 goals in round 17.

The article goes on to lump us in with Collingwood and St Kilda. Not only did we thrash both sides whenever we met them in H&A, then beat St Kilda in a final, but we were clearly a better side than either of them for all but the first 3 rounds! Collingwood have been proven as having little depth, and the Saints had problems so bad that they sacked a coach! ANYONE who's seen a football match before 2006 can see as plain as day that we're threatening for top 4 this coming year.

Honestly, what do you have to do to be rated deservingly by the media in this comp?! I'd complain, but I have no idea where to start, and I have serious doubts that my protestations would reach anyone who would care...

Seriously filthy about this. MFC deserves more plaudits than this clown offers. Not much more, I grant, but more nonetheless.

Here's the link.

http://afl.com.au/default.asp?pg=news&...rticleid=311136

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Disgusted with the assertion that the dogs were the best Victorian team last season and that they are the logical challengers for a top-4 spot next year.

Good points but I'd prefer it if the team did all of its talking for 2007 on the field.

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Good points but I'd prefer it if the team did all of its talking for 2007 on the field.

Dido

Hopefully this is like holding a 'red rag to a bull'. :angry:

I have no doubt that this will be used as motivation.

GO DEES

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I was getting angry, then I saw that the review was written on AFL.com.

The AFL website and its vast majority of 'journalists', has as much credibility as the homeless man who sings to me everyday on the way to work.

We were the best Victorian team in 2006. I don't see how anyone who can read an AFL ladder (before or after finals) could argue against that.

The Doggies are everyone's 'second favourite team'.... for some reason, that translates into 'best Victorian team' to some. :rolleyes:

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Honestly, what do you have to do to be rated deservingly by the media in this comp?!

Win games that matter.

There is only one prize in this competition and where others rate us for the rest is of no importance to me.

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Win games that matter.

There is only one prize in this competition and where others rate us for the rest is of no importance to me.

Ultimately, you are of course right. But we can't win flags EVERY year. I'm happy if we let them win one every second year... In the meantime, and particularly in the case of clubs that have suffered from sustained failure (and boy, have we ever done that), it's important to make our legion of rich, fairweather friends get up off their arses and follow the club again. We all hate that there are people who don't pay extra monay unless they see us win, but it's a sad reality that it happens.

I may be wrong, as neither you nor I can be accused of being "fairweather" supporters, but I'd suggest that guys like Jones, Bate, McLean, Bartram, Davey, Dunn, Moloney, Rivers and even Sylvia all have the potential of being future stars of the competition. If the site that most part-time fans visit says that we're further back than we are, then that inhibits, at least in some small way, the excitement that we can generate within that fan-base.

Look, in the end it's only a very small thing, and I can only find that one legitimate problem with it. To be honest, I'm just [censored] off because I'm proud of the image the club is working towards, and I think we deserve to have repect, or at least the embryonic stages of respect. I am mindful, however, that the only kind of respect that matters is self respect.

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...I'm proud of the image the club is working towards, and I think we deserve to have repect, or at least the embryonic stages of respect. I am mindful, however, that the only kind of respect that matters is self respect.

Respect is earned not deserved.

For the first time last year, we actually continuously competed for the hard contested ball and actually at times began to win games that a downhill skiing club like ours would normally lose....often badly too. The players you mention need to perform and cant live off potential for too long in this game.

Prior to 2006, we were as soft as butter and deserved the skepticism the football media gave us.

In the end, Fan is right. There is only one prize that counts. And when we win it the critics can just all get stuffed. B)

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complete loser!

jaded as for doggies being everyones second club, well ill dispute that

I HATE THE DOGS!

beleive me if you lived int he western suburbs you would too!

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I'm just [censored] off because I'm proud of the image the club is working towards, and I think we deserve to have repect,

I agree DD. Our club has worked very hard to be where it is today and I agree we deserve that respect. But in one article written by one reporter we haven't got it.

I think it's fair to say I've just stopped worrying about things I can't control. I can't stop the fairweather supporter jumping on and off. I can't stop the well healed MCC member not putting money into our club, I can't help the fact we don't have a big supporter base with the benefits that go with it and I can't help the fact we don't put bums on seats in sufficient numbers when we play to demand 18 games at the G.

But like you I take pride in the efforts of the club in achieving what we have and I do what I can to help. But hardnuts like Hannabal always remind me that there is only one prize, and ultimatley they are right. But it doesn't mean you can't admire effort and events along the journey.

RR I reckon you're a hard man. Wasn't it 2004 that after 18 rounds we were top? Where have we been when we've played 15 rounds in the last three years, when we've played everyone once? I reckon it's top 4.

Soft teams don't achieve that.

But we were harder last year and gained a bit of respect for that I reckon.

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Good stuff Fan.

Though I think there is one interesting point you made. That one about making it to the top 4 after round 15. I would argue that yes, you have to be a good side to do that, but then the hardness to keep it up in rounds 16-22 and in finals is exactly what we're lacking. I wouldn't call us soft, certainly not. But in terms of that kind of "hardness", we're on the way, but not there yet.

I think the point I'd like to see people make is that you don't come from outside the top 8 one year, and win the flag the next. In most, if not all cases, you need to build the side, give them experience in a few H&A seasons, make finals, win finals, win prelims and then make and win a GF. H and RR, would you say it's too much to expect a few failures along the way?

What I found encouraging was that there's definite improvement, in a number of different areas... Hardness in the youth, and even with some middle and older aged players with McDonald and Green adding extra grunt to their games. Success in a final, albeit with some good fortune. A better looking defence. A bona-fide star in the making (Brock).

My point is that if premierships are earned over the space of X amount of years, then surely 2006 would count as one of them.

In the end, one measely finals victory counts for nothing if it doesn't lead to the ultimate success. It's actually worse in a lot of ways because you deny yourself the spoils in the draft when you bottom out. If the assertion of guys like RR and H (and I don't mean to presume) is that all we're doing is maintaining a perpetual 5-8th position, then that's fair enough. They're absolutely right if they're saying that we're doomed to mediocrity, as that's all we've PROVEN we're capable of so far. 4 of the last 5 years we've ended up 5-6th twice and 7-8th twice. Is it doing us any good? Time will tell I guess. Personally I look at the glass half full. I guess it's too much to expect afl.com "journalists" to do the same. And in the end, it's all just academic.

I'm loving following the dees at the moment, simply because I'm convinced we're growing and building, not declining. That's reason enough for me to think positively.

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I can't stop the well healed MCC member not putting money into our club...

I hear what you say but if the MCC was well "healed" they might want to put their money into the hospital responsible for the healing. On the other hand, if they were well heeled, then they might be like Imelda Marcos and have thousands of pairs of shoes. Let's leave MCC members out of this - plenty of them contribute to the club.

Otherwise, I'm in agreement with what you say.

Apocalypse XXXI (an MCC Member)

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yeah well, the media dont rate us as being candidates because we are way too inconsistent. on the other hand the dogs had two average to good seasons and are rated enormously. we have had made the finals three years in a row i think, (ess'04, geel'05,stk06'?) not sure about 04 whether it was 03, and proved our critics we are worthy enough to be rated among the best. in this biased world of commentating and media reports, we simply have to earn their respect by winning the bloody thing! i guess its way better being the underdog rather than the favourite.

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We deserve to be treated with scepticism by the football media, public and fans alike. For the past 3 seasons we've been in a position to make the top 4 and have blown it! The excuses and or reasons thrown up by our football department for our failures during the business end of the season are starting to wear a bit thin with the football media. We have achieved nothing since the year I was born.

It annoys the crap out off me to read posts on this website about indiscretions by players from other clubs. At the end of the day, it's the deeds of the players on the field that matter. Ben Cousins is testament to that.

Talk is cheap. Being the best Victorian club means diddly squat to me. We need to have higher expections, and be more ruthless. As much as it pains me, Essendon has as much chance of winning a flag in the foreseeable future as we have. This is not based on current lists, but of club culture. We sell 2 home games interstate for short term financial gain. If our window of opportunity is now, why are we doing this?

At least the Bulldogs have shown the gumption to recruit for the present, ie; Aker and Macdougall, which explains why they're budgeting for a membership of 30k, and receive all the media hype.

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Interesting.

Look, anyone who argues that the demons deserve all the respect in the world is sadly misguided. Before I refer to anything in your post let me just clarify that all I ask for is our FAIR SHARE of respect. Like RR and others say, we won't get the respect we want until we actually win a GF. Even then, it's hard to get it, just look at Sydney in 2006 who came within a point of doing it again after everyone wrote them off as "lucky". It's pretty simple really. While being #1 in Vic counts for nothing when you tally up premierships, it's still a form of praise the demons earned in 2006. Whether or not you care about measly tidbits of intra-state bragging rights or not, we WERE the best performed Vic club in 2006. So when (and if, of course) we make a prelim or GF, will we be dismissed again? Worse still, if we win one we'll get the same treatment Sydney got. What I want is for people to suggest that we're a shot at making the top 4, and they're not doing that, despite the fact that we were better than the dogs last year.

The one area I can't go with you on mo is where you say we need to have higher expectations. Who said we didn't? I EXPECT this team to build and build and build UNTIL we win a premiership. If we are forced to rebuild, THEN we shoot them down for being weak. Or the coach. Or whoever is appropriate.

I'm not saying I'm thrilled we ended up out of the finals in week 2, but I understand it's a work in progress. What I am is mindful of the fact that from my vantage point, we are heading in the right direction.

Essendon has more chance of winning a flag in the forseeable future? Now that's where we'll disagree. They were beyond weak last season. They've recruited for the next few years rather than for deep in the future. Sheedy's not going to last forever. Neither is Hird. They have problems all over the ground, and anyone who says by recruiting/retaining the spine they have will win them a flag is delusional (impressive as it may be). They'll win their fair share of games, no doubt. They may even make finals with a bit of injury luck, but they will NOT make top 4 or a flag. I'd take our list over theirs any day of the week. And while I don't have my money on us winning it this year, I have my money on this core of players between 18-26 being in touch of the top 4 over the next 5 years. What more could you ask for? Our sold interstate games have been an unfortunate necessity, that have been rectified. It's not like we were ever HAPPY with being bundled out early in week one or two of September. This perceived attitude that demons fans are happy with mediocrity is a myth. Or at least it is with me.

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I

RR I reckon you're a hard man. Wasn't it 2004 that after 18 rounds we were top? Where have we been when we've played 15 rounds in the last three years, when we've played everyone once? I reckon it's top 4.

For the past 3 years we have been beautifully positioned by the start of August. Only to disappear for a variety of reasons. For the first 15 rounds we are a class act...May June premiers. But all too often when August comes along many of our front running stars disappear. Many of our supposed leading names repeated disappear at the business end of the year. As our youth comes on, I would expect some of these perennials on our list not to be as critical to our fortunes as before.

Last year was different and you and I have discussed this at length. I thought our Sydney in Sydney win and the come from 5 goals down against Geelong in the wet at the MCG at night to be wins that not characteristically MFC. I see the changes and re excited by them. But I dont gloss the history.

FWIW, to the great unwashed footy commentator, the August/Sept fall off and the Odds/even rubbish has not painted us as a team to admire.

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Let us not forget that at one stage we won 11 from 12 games, and it took sending us over to the other side of the country to finally lose a game. Did the Bulldogs have such a streak?........No

We were red hot during those 12 games (having only gone down to the weagles by 20 something points)

Our best in 06 was better than the Doggies best. But hey, let the bulldogs bask in their glory before the season has started, weren't Geelong declared as premiership favourites after the NAB cup (before the season got underway)

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Prior to 2006, we were as soft as butter and deserved the skepticism the football media gave us.

I don't agree. I agree with your observation that we have fallen off for a number of reasons towards the end of seasons, but not that we were as soft as butter.

Injury, the draw and fitness have been our weaknesses in past years. We can control one of those and I hope BB makes a significant difference here.

Soft as butter? Rubbish. You don't achieve what we achieved by being as soft as butter.

On the other hand, we were hardly as hard as nails!

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If the assertion of guys like RR and H (and I don't mean to presume) is that all we're doing is maintaining a perpetual 5-8th position, then that's fair enough. They're absolutely right if they're saying that we're doomed to mediocrity, as that's all we've PROVEN we're capable of so far.

Thanks for the PM, Dappa. I'll respond here.

I started posting on the old Demonland just over 4 years ago, although I'd been an avid reader for 12 months prior. And it didn't take me long to recognise the quality of Deefan's posting. I didn't agree with all that he wrote, but his balance and depth of thought interested me. Spunjy and Scoop Junior, amongst others, also made quality contributions. My point being ? Almost all the posters I read then, and since, have either thought our team/list was the bee's knees and under performing, or the coach was useless. Then you had the other group who wouldn't hear a bad word about the club, players, or coach. They riled me the most. For too long I've put up with this club and many of its insipid supporters either not giving a damn or failing to understand the mindset of winners. I may have gone too far on occasions trying to shake up what I perceived to be a mundane status quo, or overly apathetic supporters, but so be it. It's a mindset that hasn't endeared me to some, but it's a stance I believed to be necessary and I make no apologies. I want to support a cutthroat club that has a hard edge. One that knows what is required for success, isn't afraid to step on toes, and makes the tough decisions on players when necessary. And I haven't always felt that these trademarks have adequately emanated from the MFC. Also, imo 95% of posters haven't had a realistic grasp of their club and its onfield capabilities.

But I digress. Dappa, you're above comments don't quote me accurately. I'm very optimistic about our future over the next year or two, before a lull in 2009/2010. However, the lull will be short lived before a strong resurgence. West Coast played finals 2002/03/04 and went out in straight sets each year. It took those years of building their list and gaining experience before they were able to seriously threaten and ultimately succeed. I think we're in a similar position. I take great solace in our finals victory over the Saints and our 3 successive September appearances. I think we are in a position now to seriously challenge, although I suspect that 2008 is more realistic. Playing and losing finals can be mediocrity or the stepping stones to success. I hope and believe it's the latter.

I'm not a Daniher apologist and I reckon he's made mistakes along the way, but I give him credit where it's due. I've said repeatedly that "outside midfields are consistently inconsistent" and I know that he recognises this and has put in train a young group that is well and truly on the way to rectifying this situation. Other than Neitz, our leaders haven't been contested ball winners. They're classy, but unable to influence games due to an inability to win the ball in tight or take the game by the scruff of the neck. What's the point of having a leader who can't stamp his impromata on a game of footy ? Whilst Brad Green has improved in this area, it's one reason he should never be captain imo - one of the areas where Deefan and I disagree. Btw, I'm not picking on Green as I believe he gets a bum wrap on here. He had a fine year which has gone largely unrecognised.

We've got a couple of structural weaknesses as a side and as usual injuries will play a part, but no team in the competition is perfect. There's no champion Brisbane Lions outfit running around. Can we pinch hit and cover where we're deficient ? Time will tell, but unlike others, who rightly point to our NQR kpp's, or a potential ruck issue, it's the midfield that causes me most angst. The potential is fantastic, but are they currently capable of the 'gut running' required to win a finals campaign ? I'm not so sure, but we must make top 4 if we're a genuine chance. I think we can.

Sorry for the self indulgent rant.

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Playing and losing finals can be mediocrity or the stepping stones to success. I hope and believe it's the latter.

Encouraging post. If both you and RR have a more positive outlook than me, something is backwards.

I highlighted that sentence simply because I think it needs to be highlighted.

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gut runnning?? watch brock, jones, bartram, bate, davey, sylvia and maloney gut run the team deep into finals, let alone junior, TJ, bruce and greeny!!!

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Dapper

There is one gem in the article "While Melbourne, Collingwood and St Kilda also reached the finals in 2006, all three ended the season well adrift of the top four with the Saints to start 2007".

If we had stayed in the top three, we would have survived one trip West. We had a real chance for top two when the Weagles dropped a few games.

With a sense of deja vu, I sat and watched us go down against the first game against the Blues. I may not have seen the second or I may just have blotted it out. We also traditionally have these games against the Doggies at the Dome. The opposition gets a few goals up but for the first quarter and a half do not believe that they can win. As the realisation sets in, they truns it on. Then, the Dees rally to go down by four goals or thereabouts.

1/ Talk not to me of Spirit, confidence, Zeitgiest or the Healing Power of Crystals. I want the players to have the bravery/determination/fear of torture/whatever to run to where they should, to chose the correct attacking option rather than concentrating on not being the one to turn-over the ball which will of course come to pass.

2/ I see that the fitness (in Oldspeak) guys have been turned over. Looking at the gut on Pickett and Motlop in Round 1 last year; good idea. Although it is implausible that they could have sucked that much in always when in view of the continuing elements of the Football Dept. From the pictures of training, Robbo appears closer to his MTOW (maximum take-off weight) which bodes a better year.

3/ Jolly, Armstrong, and others have their premiership medallions. It doesn't mean that they are more than good ordinary players. It means that the Dees have erred in the going for too much depth rather than the top end.

Junior at 30 y.o. could embarass you but then he wouldn't be there.

4/ Selection.

426 in lieu of Dunn proved to be a bad as generally expected. A logical criticism but perhaps harsh.

Yze, the games-record monkey is riding high on the back of MFC. I used to speculate what the Gergatron did after he migrated south, with the Coach-Goat photo that he had on the inside of his locker door. It is in reality "a short step" not confronting the disabling issue of misplaced loyalty and expectation.

On the positive side, we have a good young team of robust midfielders, Dunn and Miller off one his best games. It just frustrates the hell out of me that we could apparently easily improve in some areas by just deciding to do so.

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..........

3/ Jolly, Armstrong, and others have their premiership medallions. It doesn't mean that they are more than good ordinary players. It means that the Dees have erred in the going for too much depth rather than the top end.

Jolly was a rookie and Armas taken at No 25 in the 2001 draft. How do you link them wirh the going for too much depth rather than the top end?

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Jolly was a rookie and Armas taken at No 25 in the 2001 draft. How do you link them wirh the going for too much depth rather than the top end?

1/ Possibly we retained Jolly and Armstrong too long when we knew that they were destined to be depth players not first stringers. Better to roll the dice again.

We retained Bizzell for depth rather than make do with Bell or Wheatley or Johnson. His 2005 was good but not a patch on his 2002. Didn't play in 2006. 2007?? His form in 2004 suggested that 2002 form was gone.

We retained 426 and Lamb too long similarly.

2/ But what I really meant is that we could clear out most of our depth players, confident that if needed, we can pick up ANOTHER TEAM'S "Jolly" or "Arma".

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1/ Possibly we retained Jolly and Armstrong too long when we knew that they were destined to be depth players not first stringers. Better to roll the dice again.

We retained Bizzell for depth rather than make do with Bell or Wheatley or Johnson. His 2005 was good but not a patch on his 2002. Didn't play in 2006. 2007?? His form in 2004 suggested that 2002 form was gone.

We retained 426 and Lamb too long similarly.

2/ But what I really meant is that we could clear out most of our depth players, confident that if needed, we can pick up ANOTHER TEAM'S "Jollyu" or "Arma".

Steve,

Jolly was the back up to White and spat the dummy about lack of opportunity to be No 1 in 2004. I thought we traded him at the right time. In 2004, had White gone down we would had a very green Jamar to follow.

Armas was possibly held a year too long but may have had a contractual arrrangment to cover that. More a poor draft selection

Bizz was retained as a player to compete for best 22 in 2005 especially with the untimely death of Troy B. Bizz had the Club over a barrel wanting 3 years. Club wanted 2 and caved in then gave him 3 years. I would have let him walk at that point rather than given him 3 years.

426 possibly deserved another year fully fit without injury or illness to see if he made the grade. He did not and was not good enough. Draft selection policy in question regarding the risk of taking big men early in the draft.

The retention of Lamb for so long on our list was an error as was using such a high pick for him (Pick 13 in 1998)

However I am not sure how the retention of these players as depth has curtailed the Club's access to the top quality players. Aside from Jolly none of the players had trade value at respective points. There is probably more of an issue with draft selection. However overall CAC's record is pretty good.

Furthemore we did not have draft pick access to the cream of the competition. So while I note your sentiments about some players I dont understand how the retention issue blocks the focus on higher talent.

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1/ Possibly we retained Jolly and Armstrong too long when we knew that they were destined to be depth players not first stringers. Better to roll the dice again.

We retained 426 and Lamb too long similarly.

2/ But what I really meant is that we could clear out most of our depth players, confident that if needed, we can pick up ANOTHER TEAM'S "Jolly" or "Arma".

Something I've been encouraged by in the last few years is how the footy department have been willing to give players who have had slow starts to their careers every opportunity to prove themselves. It's interesting that both you and RR see the lingering retention of 426, Lamb and Arma as mistakes. As it happens, I agree with you wholeheartedly in at least those 3 cases. I am totally behind the dismissing of these three, as it's clear they were all fairly limited in one way or another. While they were at the club, they were favourites of mine and I would have been pleased to see them remain, assuming they went forward as players and became solid contributors, but I can see that I was perhaps a bit naive in my bind faith.

But hindsight is a wonderful thing isn't it? ND has made a frustrating habit of NOT playing the kids when he's had the opportunity in the past (2006 was an improvement in this area). Perhaps as a direct result of a lack of free space in the 22, he's given these youngsters roughly 4 years instead of 2 to make sure he's left no stone unturned.

While I agree that the hard decisions should be made in regard to the list, as there's only so many spots, I'm still pleased to know that any player drafted to the club, even the ones drafted below 50, come to MFC safe in the knowledge that they will be given EVERY opportunity whether there's room in the 22 for them or not. If you had to choose between the Swans and the Dees as a rookie, surely you'd take the dees, and work twice as hard seeing as there's actually hope you may get a run.

A fairly sound example of this is with Juice. A less thorough club could have looked at his year and said that he was unable to be regularly selected in the Sandy 1s, and with little physical improvement, perhaps 2 years was enough? He was after all taken at the arse-end of his draft, as a bottom-age speculative recruit. Newton's weaknesses may seem more severe when you consider the relative success of Dunn and Bate who are of a similar height, and are of the same age. This habit of sticking with players for longer than they may deserve could pay dividends. At very least I hope to see him make some sort of impact so that perhaps if we have problems with him, he may have some prade potential.

I would love to know what goes on in CAC's head at times like these. Does MFC's treatment of slowly developing players come out of a solid confidence in CAC's own recruiting? Or does it come from the fear that, through premature delistings, they may have missed a gem that was right under their noses?

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    IMAGINE by Whispering Jack

    The Demons made their official return to the training track for 2019 on a sunny Saturday morning at Goschs Paddock with most of the interest initially centred on a small patch of ground in one of the pockets where the rehab group was going through the paces. Some good pieces of news on that score. The  rehab group is considerably smaller than it was prior to the Christmas break with Christian Petracca (knee), James Harmes (shoulder), Jayden Hunt (shoulder), Neville Jetta (shoulder), Oscar McDonald (hip) and Tim Smith (foot) all having fully recovered and training with the main group.  More good news. The remaining rehabbers were all training at a reasonable level leaving one to think that they all should be right for the opening of the season, with the exception of Jake Lever (knee) who might not be that far away by the end of March. Key midfielders Jack Viney (foot), Angus Brayshaw (back) and Clayton Oliver (shoulders) have been on modified training programmes but appear on target to return to full training in the next month along with Oskar Baker (hamstring, Mitch Hannan (knee), Billy Stretch (toe) and Aaron vandenBerg (shoulder). Nathan Jones was apparently troubled by hamstring tightness and took it easy with a bit of sparring practice and Jake Melksham was the only player missing (possibly because his wife is expecting a child any day now).  And after Friday’s shocking news of Tom Mitchell’s broken leg at Hawthorn’s training, the really good news was that nobody ended the session on crutches or in a moon boot. The story going round during the break of a renewal of Tom McDonald’s toe woes was just that - a tale with no substance. There’s a blister on a big toe but mine’s worse than his and it’s not going to stop me from being at the MCG on Saturday 23 March when the season starts with a game against Port Adelaide. So with that game in mind, the attention turned to the blokes who were training their butts off in the warm-up to what promises a tough month or two heading up to the 2019 season.  I’ve tried to steer away from all of the media speculation about Melbourne being one of the top three in line for the premiership but the inescapable take away from the session is the observation that the maturing list now runs strong and deep in quality and the club’s recruiting appears to have added icing to the cake.  We are light years away from the position we occupied when Dave Misson arrived to find that the club’s fitness and training regime was well below the standards of most AFL clubs. We no longer need to go into raptures about young draftees stepping up to the plate for round one because that simply isn’t going to happen. The younger recruits will all be given plenty of time. However, there are three (perhaps four if you add former Collingwood VFL player Marty Hore) ready-made potential additions to the team who have arrived from other clubs to add strength to Melbourne’s 2019 campaign. The added depth will certainly put pressure on the veterans like Jones and Jordan Lewis - that sort of pressure being another plus for teams that want to go places in this tough competition.  The addition of another club’s captain to your list is something that doesn’t happen often so my first observation is that Steven May from the Suns looms as a significant addition to the ranks. That was made clear from my first sighting of him on the track - he cuts a very imposing figure out on the ground and one can’t escape the feeling that his move to Melbourne is one that will be a great one for his career and for the club. Imagine him and Jake Lever as additions to the defensive structure of the side that took part in last year’s finals. Imagine another revitalised former Sun in Kade Kolodjashnij and a fit and re-energised Jayden Hunt and/or Billy Stretch added to that mix tearing down the flanks or the wings. At 206 cm and 109 kg Braydon Preuss is a big man and it’s hard to reconcile why North Melbourne let him go. True, Todd Goldstein had a good season last year and Ben Brown and Majak Daw (before his tragic issues) were considered adequate pinch hitters in the ruck but Preuss is a monster who promises to provide major headaches to opposing clubs that struggle now to counter Max Gawn. With the new rules coming in this season, pity their ruck divisions at centre bounces and pity the defences having to counter resting talls.  Speaking of pity, I want to go back to the rehab group for a moment and talk Jack Viney who set the tone for the rest of the players in this group with his steely determination and toughness. Back in the day, it was generally considered that being on the injured list gave players the opportunity to slack off a bit at training. Pity anyone with that view when Jack Viney’s around! Late in the session, he was doing repetitions around the boundary with Brayshaw and Lever and he attacked them with brutality. It was understandable that he was able to beat off the latter but, by the end, he had Angus gasping in his wake. Viney was restricted to only 10 of a possible 25 games due to those nagging foot injuries and was rarely able to play at his best when he was on the field. On that basis, you could almost consider a fully recovered Viney as a “recruit” in 2019. The other players who impressed at training were 2018’s big improver James Harmes and the youngster who could take that improver’s mantle, Bayley Fritsch who seems to be relishing his first full AFL pre season.  Then there’s Christian Petracca. I’m looking for him to really break out this year. Imagine that!

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    THAT WAS THE YEAR THAT WAS - 2018 by Whispering Jack

    Melbourne atoned for the heartbreak of its frustrating finish to the 2017 season by, at long last, making the finals and then disposed of two highly credentialed and experienced teams in Geelong and Hawthorn before it capitulated meekly to eventual premier West Coast in the Preliminary Final in Perth. The club’s progression has been forward and upward since it finished 2013 with two wins and appointed Paul Roos as coach. The number has increased to four, seven, 10, 12, and now 14 games. The Demons made the finals for the first time in a dozen years and are now tracking for their first premiership in five and a half decades.
     
    In the women’s game, the club’s second season of AFLW competition was dogged throughout by inaccuracy in front of goal causing it to again just miss out on grand final honours finishing third after losing 4.7.31 to 5.3.33 to rivals and eventual premiers, the Western Bulldogs in the final round. The Demons were well led by Daisy Pearce and had a star player in  Karen Paxman. They will miss their skipper Pearce, who will be out of the forthcoming season on maternity leave - a first for the womens competition. The Demons started their men’s campaign with a win in their section of the novelty AFLX competition, then won their two JLT  Community Series games against North Melbourne in Hobart and St Kilda at Casey Fields, the latter in unconvincing fashion after building a big lead early.  The opening round AFL match against Geelong resulted in a disappointing loss after a missed shot from Max Gawn in the final thirty seconds ceded a 3 point loss. The club won its next two matches, again unconvincingly although their round 3 win against North Melbourne broke a long run of defeats going back over more than a decade. A poor game against Hawthorn and a final term collapse on Anzac Day Eve against the Tigers had Melbourne down with a 2 - 3 record.  The revival began against Essendon and continued over the ensuing weeks as the Demons stretched their winning run to six games culminating with big wins against Carlton and Adelaide at Alice Springs and a solid victory over the Bulldogs. At the halfway mark of the season they were challenging for a top four spot on 8 wins and 3 defeats. The improvement had come from the return of injured pair Tom McDonald and Angus Brayshaw, the dominance of Max Gawn in the ruck and the strong form of Clayton Oliver and the young midfield. Jesse Hogan was consistently in the goals. Jake Lever who had taken a while to get his bearings but was solid during the six game winning spree sustained an ACL injury in round 11 and it took a while for the defence to recover from his loss, regroup and consolidate. In the interim, the experimentation in this area was partly the reason for a poor month that saw a  three-game losing streak including a disappointing loss to lowly St. Kilda. Earlier defeats to Collingwood on Queens Birthday and away to Port Adelaide might have been expected but the  loss to the Saints hit hard and possibly cost the team the coveted double chance.  Melbourne might have lost its star recruit, Lever, in midseason but the club did unearth two young players in Bailey Fritsch and Charlie Spargo who were both drafted in the 30s and established themselves as regulars for much of the year although they understandably ran out of steam a little at the end of the season. The Demons regrouped after the slump. The back line steadied when Sam Frost returned to help the improving Oscar McDonald in a key defensive role but, after returning to the winning list against the Dockers in Darwin and the Bulldogs at the MCG, they suffered some disappointing losses involving an after-the-siren goal to Zach Tuohy in the return game against Geelong and a home upset against   Sydney after some shocking inaccuracy in the first quarter and a half kept the Swans in the game. The injuries were mounting and the loss of Hogan at that point in time appeared devastating to a team that had yet to record a win against a top eight side. All that changed dramatically over the next four games starting with the Eagles in Perth and followed with a big win over the Giants that saw Melbourne finish in fifth place with a percentage of 131%. Then followed the emotion of a return to finals football and sound victories against seasoned playoff teams in Geelong and Hawthorn in front of crowds that gave majority support to the perennial underdog buoyed by the return from injury of co-skipper Jack Viney and the emergence at last of young key forward Sam Weideman who more than amply filled Hogan’s shoes.  Not for the first time in the modern history of the club, the wall was hit out west. The Demons looked spent in the early moments of their preliminary final in Perth against West Coast and much like last year’s lapse at the final hurdle against Collingwood, this one game is likely to inhabit the players’ collective memory over the summer and into the new season. Many players excelled and grew in 2018 and the depth of the club revealed itself when injuries struck. Max Gawn won the ‘Bluey’ Truscott’ medal and led an emerging midfield including the co-skippers Nathan Jones and Viney, a resurgent Angus Brayshaw (3rd in the Brownlow), Christian Petracca and Christian Salem and the incredibly improved James Harmes who stepped up several levels in the course of a season. The forward line was the best in the competition as many avenues were opened up to goals, breaking down only in that last final. The disappointment of that performance will surely act as a spur for even further improvement in 2019. That improvement is expected to come from a defence bolstered by the recruitment of former Gold Coast skipper Steven May and the expected return of Jake Lever in the first month or so of the season. They join some solid performers in defence including Michael Hibberd and the indefatigable Neville Jetta - a star both on and off the field. The Demons also picked up a handy defender from the Suns in Kade Kolodjashnij and a big ruck back up for All-Australian ruckman Gawn in Braydon Preuss. The club drafted a bevy of youngsters who will all take time to develop at Casey. Melbourne farewelled Jesse Hogan, Dom Tyson and Dean Kent to other clubs via trades and Tom Bugg found a new home through the draft. Former club champion Bernie Vince retired late in the season after a meritorious 100 game career at his second club. Vince will not be entirely lost to the Demons as he has returned to the club in a part-time leadership and ambassadorial role for 2019.  The loss that will hurt deeply is that of retiring CEO Peter Jackson who has overseen the six year progression from a team that won only two games in 2013 to become a preliminary finalist in 2018. Gary Pert has stepped into the breach to finish the task of leading the club to the promised land and a premiership.

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    DRAFT STORY: THE BYSTANDERS by Whispering Jack

    It was an eerie feeling, like floating on air high above the events taking place on the ground below. This was the New Draft, a two day festival of little importance to Melbourne supporters on the first night and seemingly, of little consequence on the following day. It was as if we were the bystanders of the 2018 AFL National Draft. From the time the Demons traded away their first round selection in this year’s event as part of the deal to secure Jake Lever more than 12 months ago, it was always likely to turn out this way. A little over a month ago, the club held picks 36, 46, 54, 62 and 65 which, once transposed into a world of potential priority picks and father-son and academy bidders, meant that its first choice would be pushing close to a pick near number fifty. It was akin to leaving you standing three city blocks away from Marvel Stadium and well outside the Jack Lukosious zone in draft night calculations. Even when the trades improved things somewhat marginally to a starting point of 23 and 28 (eventually 27 and 33), it meant you had just moved from William Street to King Street but the entrance to the venue was still on the distant horizon. It was probably just as well that we were that far away because opening night was excruciatingly painful, producing a clumsy and almost unwatchable production compared with the American counterparts in the NFL and NBA which it shamelessly sought to emulate. Gillon McLachlan produced a fitting highlight when he pounced onto centre stage only to discover he had nothing to announce despite the sounding of all the bells and whistles but for us - nothing. Not even the prospect of a live trade managed to keep us in the game.  When the show was over, Sam Walsh, the precocious Croweaters, the King brothers (we drafted the wrong big Max King a few years ago) and a bevy of others were gone. The Swans pulled a swifty trade to get a great deal for their next academy sensation and the Blues did nicely to steal the 2018 Morrish Medallist from the Tigers. Those who were previously uninformed of the new format were left baffled and confused that the Demons weren’t selecting on the night. By the rising of the sun on day two, we were virtually on the promenade at Marvel Stadium, hoping for a little action now that we were a matter of a few picks away from pole position. The AFL had sneakily changed the starting time from 10.00am to noon but even then we were hardly bashing down the doors to get in despite the dreary conditions outside. But when the draft restarted, we somehow remained the bystanders. The months (and for some, the years) of following potential draftees, the national championships, junior competitions, TAC Cup finals, draft combines, phantom drafts, power rankings, teams of the year and the late speculation all flashed past our eyes to produce ... on the face of it ... not a great deal. On top of that, there were no bolters, no All-Australian sliders who somehow mysteriously drifted into our laps, nor even any players finding their way to us from a list of so-called hidden gems” that was floating about. In the end, Melbourne took an inside midfielder in South Australian Tom Sparrow with pick 27 after making an unsuccessful bid for the Bulldog’s father-son prospect Rhylee West. Then came a real bolter in Oakleigh Charger James Jordon at 33, another South Australian, Aaron Nitschke, at 53 and a mature aged defender in Collingwood VFL’s Marty Hore with 56. If there was any icing on the cake, it came when the club was not required to bid for Next Generation Academy dasher Toby Bedford who was taken late at pick 75. The return to type came with the selection of Kade Chandler in the rookie draft. I should make it clear that this is not a criticism of the selection decisions but rather I’m pointing to the low profiles of those picked. As with any draft decision made, the proof of their value is never determined on the night but well down the track, often years into the future. The apparent left-of-centre approach to the draft may well pay dividends in the future for a club with a young team on the ascent  - the players selected are not shrinking violets. They are all aggressive ball-winners known for their relentless attack on the football. In that respect, none of them are bystanders.

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    THE KID - A TRIBUTE TO COLIN by Whispering Jack

    There are some truly endearing memories that I have of the Kid, one or two of them off the ground and others on the field of play. It seemed to me that at every club function I attended, one of the constants was the sight of the much-loved Colin Sylvia, face smiling and friendly, surrounded by admirers, young and old, male and female. There was the promotional clip (Foxtel, I think) with Colin in the locker room beside skipper David Neitz draped in towels and joking. It was as if, from the very beginning, the new boy on the block was being typecast as a larrikin, albeit a lovable one who, in our hopes, would one day  become a hero. And that was the problem for the recruit from Merbein which, during my childhood produced another star Demon in Hassa Mann, a shy country lad who went on to captain the club, played in a few premierships and was a solid citizen off the field. The new kid from Merbein simply kept getting into trouble.  There were problems with a girlfriend, he broke team curfews, missed the odd recovery session, left the scene of a car accident (it’s unclear if he was the driver). He was often in the wrong place and the wrong condition at the wrong time but we all still loved him. After all, he was going to be our hero. On the field, he was something else. The first time I saw him was in a practice match for Melbourne’s then affiliate Sandringham, at the Beach Road Oval, ironically named after another blond larrikan Trevor Barker who also passed at far too young and age but from cancer. There was one brief moment that defined Sylvia’s potential as a contender when he gathered the ball near the centre, swiveled past an opponent and barreled the ball from 70 metres out. Years later when I recalled that piece of play with him at a club best and fairest night, he laughed and said he remembered it but thought the kick was “from closer to 80 metres out”. It took a year or so to get his career going and it built slowly but surely within a few years during which time he grew in stature to the point that it wasn’t necessary to call him by his surname. He was Colin and we loved him. The tough break for Colin was that Melbourne went into decline just as he was approaching his prime. Most supporters would agree that his best game came on Sunday, 24 May, 2009 on the MCG in front of almost 40,000 fans against Hawthorn when he amassed 24 kicks, 13 handballs, 9 marks and 4 goals that were just not enough to get the Demons across the line.  He continued to play good football for the year despite the fact that the club was regularly accused of tanking its matches and again into 2010 but at around that time, the injuries in the form of groin and shoulder problems came, the team was performing miserably as the veterans left while other young saviours who were replacing them struggled. The contender was also struggling to live up to his potential status as a hero; he was failing and the fun had gone. After 157 games and 129 goals, the Kid departed for Fremantle at the end of 2013. Things didn’t work out in the West and, amid ongoing controversy about his attitude and behaviour under Ross Lyon, Colin managed six more games that were mostly unremarkable. Career over before his 29th birthday with life after football bringing further challenges for a young man who found retirement from the game at its top level a tough gig.  Colin was working to get his life on track when his car collided with another vehicle last Sunday afternoon at the intersection of Nineteenth Street and Benetook Avenue in the Mildura suburb of Irymple. He died on the scene and will be buried today. We loved him to death - our deepest sympathies go to his family. “I'm the kid who has this habit of dreaming
    Sometimes gets me in trouble too
    But the truth is I could no more stop dreaming
    Than I could make them all come true” - Buddy Mondlock  

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    THE TRADING CHRONICLES 2018 by Whispering Jack

    PART TWO - NO CHOICE There was a time before he even played a single game at AFL level that Jesse Hogan was regarded as the player who would lift Melbourne from the bottom of the ladder. He’s been at the club since he was selected in the 2012 mini-draft but circumstances caused him to wait two seasons before making his AFL debut. He achieved Rising Star status in 2015, kicked more than 40 goals in three of his four seasons, had his disappointments with injuries, illness and personal issues with the loss of his father and yet, Hogan the Saviour seemed forever absent for the club’s most triumphant moments.  Hogan is now a Docker after the Demons traded him for national draft picks 6 and 23 on the final day of the AFL's trade period. This is despite the fact that he was contracted to Melbourne for 2019 and would have earned good money. There’s no doubting his quality as a footballer but he wanted to go home and the likelihood remained high that he might be gone after another season filled with unwelcome distractions of an uncertain future at the club. And not for the first time. When expectations are high for the future after making it to a Preliminary Final, full commitment to the cause beyond the now is paramount. In the end, there was no choice. Moving on to the future, the three players introduced to the Melbourne Football Club  have the attributes of commitment, willingness to work hard and the ability to fill needs. Former Gold Coast co-captain Steven May, a hard-at-it defender has a five year contract. The skillful Kade Kolodjashnij who brings run and carry to the table and mature ruckman Braydon Preuss both join the club with three year deals.  There is no certainty in the business of sport but Melbourne appears to have done well in a trade period that also saw it upgrade its draft position to a point where it now has two picks in the 20s. There is still a lot to do at the draft table, some rookie upgrades and possible acquisition of delisted free agents to fill the eight vacant places on the club’s lists. Where does this all leave the Melbourne Football Club? Age journalist Peter Ryan summed up the Demons’ trade period in At a glance: Assessing each club's 2018 AFL trade period when he wrote  “At a glance: Going for the flag”. Of course, it’s too early to make a reasoned analysis of the trade period because the outcome is never determined in the moment. Time will tell for all clubs and in 2018 there were so many different agendas and strategies. There were clubs that used it to dump the burden of high salaries, some wanted better draft position while others aimed to fulfill certain needs. In the end 42 players changed clubs by way of trades but by draft time at the end of November, there will be many more new faces at every club. The completed trades - Trade Tracker

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    THE TRADING CHRONICLES 2018 by Whispering Jack

    PART ONE - BETWEEN RUCKS AND HARD PLACES Melbourne has been rather pragmatic in its approach to the off season Free Agency and Trade period. After methodically releasing a larger than usual number of players through delistings, it has also traded away a couple of others who it clearly regards as being surplus to the requirements of team focused on a top four finish in 2019 and to this date, acquired a big ruckman to accompany its All Australian Max Gawn in that campaign. The Demons’ lists have undergone a major refit since the final siren sounded on Preliminary Final day. At that point, we knew of the retirements of Harley Balic and Bernie Vince and soon after the announcements came of Tom Bugg, Dion Johnstone, Mitch King, Pat McKenna and Cam Pedersen and rookie Lachie Filipovic. On Friday, the trades of Dean Kent (to St Kilda) and Dom Tyson (North Melbourne) were signed off, bringing the number of departures to double figures.  The Kangaroos traded Brayden Preuss to the Demons to give Melbourne the competition’s most potent ruck combination.  If things were going well for Melbourne’s football manager Josh Mahoney, they certainly went sour with the news late on Friday that Fremantle had withdrawn its interest in securing forward Jesse Hogan by way of a trade. The decision threw the Demons’ plans of securing Gold Coast defender Steven May along with a raft of other potential trades depending on the outcome of those deals. The Dockers have been chasing WA native Hogan for some four years and last week they paraded him through their headquarters. After it was announced that Hogan had passed his medical, it was thought to be a formality that a trade would be arranged after the obligatory bargaining period.  Fremantle General Manager of Football, Peter Bell, just two weeks into the job, announced - “We have been undertaking a due diligence process as part of a possible trade to secure Jesse Hogan. “As part of that process, we have had discussions with Jesse, the player’s management and Melbourne. “While discussions were proceeding it became clear that what Melbourne would be seeking for a trade would not be possible for our club to meet. “As such, we have informed Melbourne and Jesse’s management that we will not be continuing further with the due diligence process.” This was Bell’s reaction to Melbourne’s refusal to accept his club’s offer of National Draft Pick 11 and a future second-round pick with the Demons expecting two early selections including # 5 that the Dockers would be expecting in a deal with Brisbane for Lachie Neale (Bell is reportedly expecting two first round picks). The reaction might have come as a surprise but it needs to be looked at in the context of what is happening at the very top at the Fremantle Football Club. In August, its list manager Brad Lloyd departed for Carlton and the task of dealing with the free agency and trading was taken over by CEO Steve Rosich in concert with Bell after his appointment. They are certainly doing things differently in a trade period during which all of the other clubs have been businesslike in their approach — the Freo pair’s dealings over Hogan, Rory Lobb, Neale and a clumsy approach to Geelong’s Tim Kelly who wants to go to the Eagles have raised scorn and disdain throughout the football fraternity and their own fans aren’t happy either! This has left Hogan back with the Demons for the time being as he plays out the final year of his contract in 2019 (unless the Dockers have a change of heart in the next few days). Mahoney has made it clear that the club is not in a position to follow up a trade for May without completing a deal for Hogan.  The bonus for the club however, is that it can go into the pre season with a quality key position forward approaching the prime of his career while the team is in the premiership window. Meanwhile, at the other end of the continent, the Dockers are likely to languish, living with a dysfunctional recruiting structure and scorned by the rest of the football community. Good luck with that! Docker shocker as Freo pull pin on Hogan pursuit This is the full list of trades after five days: • Reece Conca joined Fremantle as a free agent. The Tigers don't get any compensation.
    • Richmond signed Tom Lynch as a restricted free agent. Gold Coast opted not to match the offer. The Suns got pick No.3 as compensation.
    • Luke Dahlhaus joined Geelong as an unrestricted free agent. The Western Bulldogs got a round two pick as compensation (No.27).
    • Scott Lycett joined Port Adelaide as a restricted free agent after the Eagles decided not to match Port's offer. Port got pick 20 as compensation.
    • The Cats traded Lincoln McCarthy, pick 55 and pick 58 to the Lions. In return, the Lions sent over picks 43 and 61.
    • Richmond sent Corey Ellis, Anthony Miles and a future third round pick to the Suns for a future third round pick.
    • The Blues used one of their special assistant pre-draft picks to send Nathan Kreuger to Geelong in exchange for pick 43.
    • The Lions and the Suns did a pick swap. Brisbane ended up with 32, 41, 44 and 77. Gold Coast got 24, 58 and 79.
    • Mitch McGovern and a future third round pick made their way from Adelaide to Carlton. Carlton sent back Shane McAdam (their second pre-draft special assistance pick) and a future fifth round pick.
    • Sydney sent pick 13 to the Crows. In return, they got pick 40. They also got picks 26 and 28 from Carlton.
    • Jared Polec and Jasper Pittard moved to North Melbourne from Port Adelaide. Also sent over: pick 48. In return, Power received pick 11 and a future fourth round pick.
    • Sydney's Gary Rohan was traded to Geelong for pick 61.
    • The Swans sent pick 61 to North Melbourne in exchange for Ryan Clarke.
    • St Kilda traded Tom Hickey, pick 60 and a future fourth rounder to the Eagles. In return, the Saints got pick 39 and a future fourth round pick.
    • Alex Fasolo joined Carlton as an unrestricted free agent. Collingwood got pick 57 as compensation.
    • Gold Coast signed Josh Corbett (Werribee) and Chris Burgess ( West Adelaide) as two of their special assistance picks.
    • Port Adelaide and Fremantle swapped picks: Power got pick six and a future third round selection, and sent picks 11, 23, 30 and 49 to the Dockers.
    • Sydney Swans have traded Dan Hannebery and its Rd 2 selection, currently number 28 (on traded from Carlton) to St Kilda for its Rd 2 selection, currently selection number 39 (on traded from West Coast), and its Future Round Two Selection.
    • Melbourne have traded Dean Kent to St Kilda for its Rd 4 selection, currently selection number 65.
    • Melbourne have traded Dom Tyson to North Melbourne for Brayden Preuss and its Rd 4 selection, currently selection number 62 (on traded from the Sydney Swans).
    • GWS Giants have traded Will Setterfield and its Rd 4 (71), to Carlton for its Rd 3 (43), and Future Round Two Selection.

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    CHANGES 2018 by The Oracle

    PART 1 - UPHEAVAL AND CHANGE Every year, as soon as the grand final siren sounds, the 18 AFL clubs enter into a new season that lasts for two months and ends in the drafts. This is the time of transition and sometimes upheaval for the clubs as their lists change in the hope for each of them that they can regenerate their lists to the point where they can challenge for a premiership flag. The official proceedings start today with the opening of the restricted free agency offer and unrestricted free agency period starts and on Monday, the NAB AFL Trade Period kicks off. The coming off season of change is looming large at the Melbourne Football Club in comparison with last year when the club farewelled only six senior list players (including one, Heritier Lumumba, who had retired before that season even began) and one rookie. Their replacements came via trades and the draft, leaving the 2018 Melbourne Football Club player list (with new players in italics) as follows - PRIMARY LIST: Oskar Baker Harley Balic Angus Brayshaw Tomas Bugg Bayley Fritsch Sam Frost Jeff Garlett Max Gawn Mitch Hannan James Harmes Michael Hibberd Jesse Hogan Jayden Hunt Neville Jetta Dion Johnstone Nathan Jones Jay Kennedy Harris Dean Kent Mitch King Jake Lever Jordan Lewis Oscar McDonald Tom McDonald Pat McKenna Jake Melksham Alex Neal-Bullen Clayton Oliver Cameron Pedersen Christian Petracca Harrison Petty Christian Salem Charlie Spargo Joel Smith Billy Stretch Dom Tyson Aaron vandenBerg Bernie Vince Jack Viney Josh Wagner Sam Weideman  ROOKIE LIST: CATEGORY A Lachlan Filipovic Declan Keilty Corey Maynard Tim Smith  As in the past, the process has been going on for months and even longer in the case of the assessment of younger talent. The 18 clubs have all been working feverishly looking for potential trades and for which some players on their lists are moved on.  The Demons have already added two Category B rookies who will shortly commence their apprenticeships at the club. The changes were being foreshadowed even before season’s end when two Demons - Harley Balic and Bernie Vince - had also announced their retirements.  The floodgates were opened almost as soon as the final siren sounded at Optus Stadium on Preliminary Final day. The first delistings included Tom Bugg, Mitch King, Pat McKenna and Cam Pedersen, who announced his retirement, and rookie Lachie Filipovic. Yesterday, Dion Johnstone was added to that group.  Then there are those being mentioned in despatches as being on the trade table from Dean Kent who almost has his foot in the door at St Kilda, to Jesse Hogan, seemingly bound for Fremantle delisted) and others such as Dom Tyson and Aaron vandenBerg said to be exploring options for various reasons. This means a potential of a dozen new faces including names such as May, Kolodjashnij, Preuss and many more in the club’s new period of upheaval and change ...

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    HEARTBREAK WEEKEND by KC from Casey

    The Casey Demons led the 2018 Grand Final from the beginning until the 13 minute mark of the final quarter of the VFL Grand Final at Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon but were overrun in the finish by the Box Hill Hawks. The defeat was the team’s second in a season-decider in three seasons and marked yet another heartbreaking climax to a year of many highlights for the club. The Demons had opened the game in promising fashion moving the ball with great speed and converted four times to take a 25 point lead in the early going. They were ferocious with their tackling with 20 in the first term alone and by half time had shown up the effort of their senior counterparts by exceeding their total tally of tackles from the day before. Casey dominated proceedings in most facets of the game for almost all of the opening half but some crucial shots at goal from easy range. One of the few statistics where they were bested was the free kick count - one of the factors that seemed to keep the Hawks in the game. When the siren sounded to signal the start of the long break the Demons led by 23 points but an after-the-siren goal to Box Hill reduced the lead and gave the Hawks great hope leading into the final half.  The rejuvenated Hawks lifted their game after the break and they gradually clawed back at Casey’s lead, assisted by their complete dominance in the ruck where they smashed the undersized Casey ruck division through the agency of Pittonet who amassed an enormous 57 hit outs and took 7 big marks. This division has been problematic for the Demons all season and was exacerbated of late by the poor form of Mitch King who was not selected for the finals and the injury to young Lachie Filipovic. In their stead, Cam Pedersen, Tim Smith and Mykelti Lefau who were gallant in the preliminary final, simply struggled this week. And so, when it came to the final term of the biggest match of the season, Casey faltered and was unable to produce one of those stirring finishes that got it through a number of the 12 consecutive victories of earlier in the season. Some of its name players were unable to produce: there were far too many passengers and a number will no doubt be forced to look elsewhere in 2019. Bayley Fritsch was an exception. He provided plenty of run off the back line and showed great application and heart to prove the judgement of the senior Demon selection panel off key when they omitted him from the team that went to Perth.  The defensive work of Declan Keilty and Harry Petty was excellent in the first half and both have potential as key position defenders. Bernie Vince was solid and creative in his swan song game and Tom Bugg worked hard for four quarters.  The Casey listed crew were mainly underwhelming. Corey Wagner worked hard as did Jay Lockhart while Jimmy Munro tackled strongly as usual.  Unfortunately, they weren’t as effective or consistent as they have been for most of the season.  The scoreboard when the final siren sounded heralded yet another disappointment in the Demons’ Heartbreak Weekend. There’s always next year. Peter Jackson VFL 2018 Casey Demons 4.4.28 5.9.39 8.11.59 8.14.62 Box Hill Hawks 1.1.7 3.4.22 7.8.50 10.12.72 Goals   Casey Demons Bugg Kennedy-Harris Lefau Lockhart Machaya Pedersen Scott T Smith  Box Hill Hawks Moore 3 Jones Hanrahan Lovell  Moore O'Brien O'Rourke Ross  Best Casey Demons Fritsch C Wagner Petty Keilty Vince Bugg Box Hill Hawks Mirra Moore Pittonet Hanrahan Cousins O'Brien Statistics  Tomas Bugg 1 goal 15 kicks 9 handballs 24 disposals 5 marks 7 tackles 114 dream team points
    Tom Freeman 10 kicks 4 handballs 14 disposals 4 marks 4 tackles 67 dream team points
    Bayley Fritsch 1 behind 13 kicks 7 handballs 20 disposals 8 marks 1 tackle 83 dream team points
    Jeffrey Garlett 1 behind 3 kicks 2 handballs 5 disposals 2 marks 3 tackles 27 dream team points
    Mitch Gent 4 kicks 4 handballs 8 disposals 1 mark 3 tackles 36 dream team points
    Jayden Hunt 7 kicks 5 handballs 12 disposals 4 marks 3 tackles 33 dream team points
    Jack Hutchins 2 kicks 3 handballs 5 disposals 2 marks 1 tackle 22 dream team points   
    Declan Keilty 7 kicks 6 handballs 13 disposals 3 marks 5 tackles 53 dream team points
    Jay Kennedy Harris 1 goals 1 behind 13 kicks 5 handballs 18 disposals 3 marks 6 tackles 89 dream team points
    Mykelti Lefau 1 goal 4  kicks 2  handballs 6 disposals 4 marks 1 tackles 6 hit outs 32 dream team points
    Jay Lockhart 1 goals 1 behind 10 kicks 3 handballs 13 disposals 4 marks 3 tackles 61 dream team points 
    Pat McKenna 1 behind 2 kicks 1 handball 3 disposals 1 mark 1 tackle 17 dream team points
    Cory Machaya 1 goal 1 behind 5 kicks 5 handballs 10 disposals 5 marks 3 tackles 53 dream team points
    James Munro 1 behind 5 kicks 6 handballs 11 disposals 2 marks 12 tackles 78 dream team points
    Cameron Pedersen 1 goal 7 kicks 3 handballs 10 disposals 4 marks 5 tackles 12 hit outs 72 dream team points
    Harry Petty 5 kicks 7 handballs 12 disposals 5 marks 42 dream team points
    Angus Scott 1 goal 6 kicks 3 handballs 9 disposals 5 marks 4 tackles 62 dream team points
    Tim Smith 1 goals 1 behind 11 kicks 5 handballs 16 disposals 4 marks 7 tackles 6 hit outs 95 dream team points
    Cory Stockdale 2 kicks 1 handballs 3 disposals 2 tackles 10 dream team points
    Bernie Vince 3 behinds 18 kicks 1 handballs 19 disposals 4 marks 7 tackles 99 dream team points
    Corey Wagner 1 behind 15 kicks 6 handballs 21 disposals 2 marks 7 tackles 87 dream team points
    Josh Wagner 8 kicks 6 handballs 14 disposals 4 marks 3 tackles 61 dream team points
    Mitch White 9 kicks 5 handballs 14 disposals 4 marks 3 tackles 59 dream team points  

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    NO CONTEST by George on The Outer

    This was the first finals series the Melbourne Football Club has participated in a dozen years and its first Preliminary Final for 18. The club got here in 2018 because it built its reputation on contest, but in the end the game against West Coast was no contest as the Eagles ran out winners by over ten goals. The match itself was really over by quarter time, as the young Demons were simply swamped by a side that was bigger, stronger and ultimately had more intent on achieving its goal.  The game, while disappointing from an outcome perspective, should motivate the Demons in the same way that the Round 22 match against Collingwood did last year.  It was what finals football was all about and while they had performed admirably in winning their past 2 matches to progress to the Preliminary, this was when things got serious.   Melbourne was exposed in the same way that Richmond was exposed on Friday night because, to get into the Big Dance, you cannot afford to come into any game half-hearted, injured or with stop gap players. Right from the start the Demons were in trouble, with errant handballs and players slipping constantly at critical moments. While West Coast scored four goals to zip in the first quarter, three of those came directly from Melbourne turnovers. Coupled with some undisciplined acts from Jordan Lewis, the momentum that a young team relied upon to forge forward was completely and utterly deflated.   It didn’t get any better in the second quarter and by half time the Eagles held a ten goal lead, which was to be the final margin. The coach would have been fuming as he watched Melbourne revert to the old style of play of standing back and expecting others to do the work. I heard it mentioned that the Demons had only three tackles to ¼ time and a paltry 30 odd for the whole game - a poor result from a side that prides itself on contest. 
     
    Statistics lovers would think Angus Brayshaw played a good game.  But stumbles, fumbles and miskicks don’t get recorded.  The stat which did get recorded was the eight clangers. The fact that he wasn’t on the ground for a majority of the third term indicates that something was wrong with him, and his grunt and surety was missed, despite the numbers.   All around the ground, we were seeing structures which were not what had been seen in past weeks or months.  Tom McDonald was playing back, Aaron vndenBerg almost full time in the middle, Joel Smith supposedly selected as a backman spent most of the game forward.  When players are being thrown around like this, it can only mean that an attempt is being made to fill gaps.   The result is the was little in the way of forward structure, but then the ball didn’t get down there until the second half of the game, and even then there was no genuine marking target.  How we would have relished Jesse Hogan in front of goal - perhaps next year? The mids were simply destroyed, not from the clearances, but by the outside run which enabled them to deliver cleanly to their forwards in Darling, Kennedy, Cripps and LeCras.  As mentioned last week, when we have Jones and Tyson on the wing, there is no run for us, but importantly, they cannot keep up with the opposition.  Then with Alex Neal-Bullen able to just hit 50% disposal efficiency, it showed that even when we had the ball, we simply butchered it. The forwards had a shocker of a day as well.  Without T McDonald there to provide a target for good parts of the game, the likes of Melksham, Hannan and Spargo rarely had a viable touch, with all of them barely into double figure disposals. Sam Weideman reverted to being unable to hold a mark this week, and Christian Petracca kept trying to give the ball off to others when inside 30m himself. His set shots were nothing to behold again.  Plenty of work needs to be done for him in this area over summer.  The backs were overwhelmed by the amount of ball coming in, but the lack of composure was telling, especially compared with their work-rate last week.  Sadly, Oscar McDonald and Michael Hibberd failed to effect a single tackle, Sam Frost, Lewis and Christian Salem one each. Neville Jetta at least had three.  The mids weren’t much better and their numbers were mostly twos and threes. Overall there were seven players who didn’t lay a single tackle in the game. Simply not good enough in any game, let alone a Preliminary Final. Can the Demons learn from this game?  The coach has already indicated that contest is king and that is particularly the case in Finals, especially when you get to the pointy end. The fans can be proud and happy with the performance during the season, and have seen the results following years of promises and nothing to show but there has to be more. And there is much more improvement to come, simply because the majority of this group is still young. They came up against a side on its home turf which played in a Grand Final just three years ago, finished the home and away  season in second spot and were handed (and took) the initiative in the first ten minutes of the game. They deserve to be Grand Finalists again this year, but we must learn to perform to the standard required to get to the final stage, that they displayed in this game ... an in particular, to always provide a contest. I just can’t wait for the cricket and tennis to be over ...
     
    Melbourne 0.3.3 0.6.6 5.9.39 7.13.55 West Coast Eagles 4.8.32 10.9.69 15.10.100 18.13.121 Goals  Melbourne Melksham 2 Hannan Harmes Oliver  J Smith Weideman West Coast Eagles Kennedy 4 Cripps Darling LeCras 3, Hutchings Redden Rioli Ryan Venables Best  Melbourne Harmes Oliver vandenBerg Petracca J Smith Viney  West Coast Eagles Kennedy Redden Cripps Hurn McGovern Sheed LeCras Injuries  Melbourne Nil  West Coast Eagles Nil Reports Melbourne Nil  West Coast Eagles Nil Umpires Nicholls, Meredith, Chamberlain  Official crowd 59,608 at Optus Stadium

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