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19TH NERVOUS BREAKDOWN by Whispering Jack

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It was the great 20th Century English poet, Mick Jagger, who wrote the immortal words,   

“You better stop, look around 
Here it comes,  
Here it comes,  
Here it comes,  
Here it comes 
Here comes your 19th nervous breakdown.”  

Yes.  

You all know where this is going because we’ve been there many times over the past dozen or so years.   

It started sometime in 2006 at the end of the season. I woke up at 4.30am in a cold sweat, overcome by a sense of foreboding that things were going to turn very, very ugly for the Melbourne Football Club in the near future. When the day dawned, the rain clouds hung dark and low - the deluge was coming.

At first I just thought it was a matter of simply allowing time to take its course and the darkness would end but the nightmares kept coming back and it was never more so than when the team came up against North Melbourne. 

 Many years passed and the team gathered strength; our expectations grew but they blew both chances to break the run last year and we’re now facing our 18th consecutive defeat at the hands of the Kangaroos.

One step closer to that 19th nervous breakdown.

THE GAME Melbourne v North Melbourne on Saturday 7 April, 2018 at the MCG at 2.10pm  

HEAD TO HEAD  

Overall Melbourne 83 wins North Melbourne 81 wins 1 draw  

At the MCG Melbourne 54 wins North Melbourne 37 wins  

Last five times Melbourne 0 wins North Melbourne 5 wins   

The Coaches Goodwin 0 wins Scott 2 wins   

MEDIA  

TV - Fox Sports 3, Live from 1.30pm

RADIO -  TBA

THE LAST TIME THEY MET  North Melbourne 11.10.76 defeated Melbourne 10.12.72 at Blundstone Arena, Round 19, 2017  

North Melbourne extended its AFL winning streak over Melbourne to 17 games and dealt the Demons a significant  blow to their finals chances with a four point victory in windswept Hobart.   

Heading into the final term with a six point lead, the Kangaroos lost the lead midway through the quarter after a Tom McDonald goal in mid quarter but responded with a major to Jy Simpkin and held on grimly against a strong wind.  

THE TEAMS  

MELBOURNE   

B: Jake Lever, Oscar McDonald, Josh Wagner
HB: Bernie Vince, Michael Hibberd, Neville Jetta
C: Jordan Lewis, Nathan Jones, Christian Salem
HF: Jake Melksham, Sam Frost, Alex Neal-Bullen
F: Christian Petracca, Jesse Hogan, Jeff Garlett
Foll: Max Gawn, Clayton Oliver, Dom Tyson
I/C: Tom Bugg, Bayley Fritsch, James Harmes, Dean Kent
Emg: Mitch Hannan, Jayden Hunt, Corey Maynard, Cam Pedersen

In: Sam Frost, Dean Kent

Out: Jayden Hunt, Cam Pedersen

NORTH MELBOURNE 

B: Marley Williams, Scott Thompson, Ryan Clarke
HB: Jamie Macmillan, Robbie Tarrant, Ed Vickers-Willis
C: Ben Jacobs, Jy Simpkin, Billy Hartung
HF: Shaun Atley, Jarrad Waite, Kayne Turner
F: Jack Ziebell, Ben Brown, Luke McDonald, 
Foll: Todd Goldstein, Shaun Higgins, Ben Cunnington
I/C: Jed Anderson, Luke Davies-Uniacke, Trent Dumont, Nathan Hrovat
Emg: Majak Daw, Mitchell Hibberd, Mason Wood, Cameron Zurhaar

No change

North Melbourne did something in its game last week that Melbourne could not do - once the Kangaroos got hold of their opposition, they ground them into the dirt and finished them off to win by 52 points. On the other hand, the Demons wasted the seven goal lead they enjoyed early in the second half and allowed Brisbane the opportunity to come back to level the scores forty minutes later before regrouping to win by a little over four goals.

It was as if the team has learned nothing from last year’s embarrassing finish when they gifted the West Coast Eagles a place in the final series by the narrowest margin in the history of the competition. 

On Saturday, they go into the game needing to prove to the football world that they can overcome their tendency to leak goals in quick bursts as well as the mental hoodoo they face against a side that has had the wood on them since the early days of skipper Nathan Jones’ career. It’s hard to believe that Jones is the only player at the club who has participated in a Demon victory at AFL level over this week’s opponent. 

Jones himself will be a focal point in his team’s efforts to gain some credibility in the football world as part of its much vaunted developing midfield with its solid mix of youth and experience. They should get the drive they need from Max Gawn, back to his 2016 best form and pitted against another All-Australian ruckman in Todd Goldstein. Both are among the the elite of the tall men in the game but the latter is past his prime. I expect the young Demon to have to much run for the veteran Kangaroo big man.

The other area where the team’s are strong is in their key forwards. Jesse Hogan has started the season strongly and Ben Brown, who has in the past owned Melbourne’s defence, booted six goals against the hapless Saints last week and was instrumental in their victory. The difference is that the Demons’ defence is much stronger than the combination the Kangaroos faced last week. Improving key back Oscar McDonald has conceded just a single goal this season and the introduction of Sam Frost should give extra solidity to this area.

Meanwhile, the Roos’ defence is not much to write home about. They were fortunate last week that both sides attacks were completely insipid and produced so many unforced errors in the first half and they managed to get themselves out of the mire in the second. That wont happen against the Demons.

Melbourne by 44 points.

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