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THE WEIGHT by Whispering Jack

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 “Boy, you gotta carry that weight  

Carry that weight a long time  
Boy, you gonna carry that weight  
Carry that weight a long time” ~ Paul McCartney [Carry That Weight - Abbey Road]    

When Paul McCartney wrote these words in the twilight of the 1960s, the greatest force in modern popular music was at the point of disintegration. 

McCartney knew the Beatles were breaking up from the perspective of their personal relationships, their creativity and as a business. John Lennon had already privately left the group by the time the Abbey Road album was released and McCartney publicly quit in 1970. The weight of greatness was sitting heavily on his shoulders and he knew it would do so for a very long time.  

The parallel event in the world of sport always struck me as being the story of the fall of the Melbourne Football Club earlier in that decade when both were at the height of their powers. The Demons lost Ron Barassi, the club’s on-ground spiritual leader when he defected to Carlton in December of their premiership year, 1964, then in the middle of the following season, their committee sacked and quickly reinstated Norm Smith who coached them to six flags in a decade.

The disintegration came swiftly; the weight of the club’s golden era remains hanging oppressively over the club to this day, despite some brief periods of respite over the past half century and more.

And in the current decade, the one foe that seems to have forced Melbourne into a state of submission more than any other is Sydney. Ironically, this period began well for the Demons with a 73 point victory over the Swans at the MCG in Round 17, 2010. It was coach Paul Roos’ biggest defeat whilst at the helm of the visitors. 

The opening round of the following season saw John Longmire's first game as the Sydney Swans coach end in a draw against Melbourne, with both teams scoring 11.18.84 each. From there, things went awry for the Demons - the record has been:-

• Round 8, 2012 Sydney Swans 21.12.138 defeated Melbourne 5.7.37 at the SCG

• Round 15, 2013, Sydney Swans 16.20.116 defeated Melbourne 13.7.85 at the MCG  

• Round 6, 2014, Sydney Swans 9.15.69 defeated Melbourne 5.8.38 at the MCG  

• Round 6, 2015, Sydney Swans 12.16.88 defeated Melbourne 7.8.50 at the MCG  

• Round 13, 2016, Sydney Swans 12.14.86 defeated Melbourne 4.7.31 at the SCG  

• Round 15, 2017, Sydney Swans 11.19.85 defeated Melbourne 7.8.50 at the MCG  

The raw figures of battles of the recent past don’t stack up well for Melbourne and understandably, many of the club’s supporters are looking at the game with fear of another impending defeat. They’ve carried the weight for a long time but they don’t quite understand the 2018 difference.

This is the first time since that losing run began that the Demons go into a game against the Swans ahead of them on the ladder and well ahead of them in terms of recent form. It’s not all that long since Sydney lost at home to the Gold Coast. A week later, they meekly capitulated to the Bombers at Etihad and last Saturday night, they barely scraped in against a crippled Collingwood that was forced to play a first gamer on Lance Franklin. Compare and contrast that with Melbourne winning by 16 goals against the Suns and its performances in hostile territory against the Cats and the Crows.

The writing’s on the wall. The weight is about to be lifted.

THE GAME  

Melbourne v Sydney Swans at the MCG Sunday 12 August, 2018 at 3.20pm    

HEAD TO HEAD   

Overall Melbourne 92 wins Sydney Swans 112 wins 2 drawn   

At MCG Melbourne 49 wins Sydney Swans 43 wins 2 drawn   

Last 5 meetings Melbourne 0 wins Sydney Swans 5 wins

The Coaches Goodwin 0 wins Longmire 1 win

MEDIA    

TV - Channel 7 Fox Sports 3 - Live at 3.00pm   

RADIO - Triple M (Regional) 3AW ABC ABC Grandstand     

THE LAST TIME THEY MET    

Sydney Swans 11.19.85 defeated Melbourne 7.8.50 in Round 15, 2017 at the MCG   

Melbourne’s run came to an end under the weight of its fourth six-day break in a row. The Demons looked flat from the start and things were not helped by Tom Bugg’s punch on Callum Mills or skipper Jack Viney’s injury early in the game.      

THE TEAMS    

MELBOURNE    

B: Neville Jetta, Oscar McDonald, Jordan Lewis
HB: Christian Salem, Sam Frost, James Harmes
😄 Dom Tyson, Clayton Oliver, Angus Brayshaw
HF: Charlie Spargo, Jesse Hogan, Aaron vandenBerg
F: Jeff Garlett, Tom McDonald, Bayley Fritsch
Foll: Max Gawn, Nathan Jones, Christian Petracca
I/C: Jayden Hunt, Jay Kennedy Harris, Alex Neal-Bullen, Cameron Pedersen
Emg: Mitch Hannan, Dean Kent, Bernie Vince, Sam Weideman,

In: Jayden Hunt, Cameron Pedersen

Out: Joel Smith (collarbone), Bernie Vince (omitted)

SYDNEY SWANS

B: Nick Smith, Aliir Aliir, Jake Lloyd
HB: Dane Rampe, Alex Johnson, Jarrad McVeigh
😄 Isaac Heeney, Josh P. Kennedy, Harry Cunningham
HF: George Hewett, Lance Franklin, Oliver Florent
F: Will Hayward, Tom McCartin, Ben Ronke
Foll: Callum Sinclair, Kieren Jack, Luke Parker
I/C:Jordan Dawson, Dan Hannebery, Nic Newman, Tom Papley
Emg: Darcy Cameron, Daniel Robinson, Gary Rohan, Dean Towers

In: Dan Hannebery

Out: Daniel Robinson (omitted)

I am not normally one to ignore the past and its lessons but in this instance, I will do exactly that in declaring the Demons will overturn history and win this game comfortably.

Consider Melbourne’s record in its past four outings against Sydney which have yielded a mere 23.31.169 or an average of just over 42 points per game. Last week against Gold Coast the team exceeded that figure within the first twenty-five minutes of play and, before anyone downplays the Suns entirely, they did beat the Swans a few weeks back.

In other words, the Dees have turned things around considerably in 2018 and they are no longer the boring, low scoring outfit that can be pushed around by the bullies of the recent past. Nowadays, they are the highest-scoring team in the competition having booted a total of 295 goals this season, a tally that is 30 greater than the next best in the Tigers and 61 more than the Swans who are equal ninth with 234 goals. Such is their forward line power this season that they lead in inside 50s and for marks inside 50 by a fair margin. And ominously for the Sydneysiders, they are improving their rate of conversion into goals from those inside 50 entries.

The Swans have most of their forward eggs in one basket - the man who they go to most times despite the fact that he’s hardly trained at all this year if you believe their coaches. But Buddy Franklin can’t do everything for them every week and he has struggled for consistency this year. He’s always the danger man but I’m not so sure that he has it in him to produce two dominant performances in a row and nor am I certain that even if he does, that it would be enough to get them home. Their winning score of 11.7.73 against a depleted Collingwood of last week would in all likelihood, not be anywhere near enough to get them over the line this time.

In defence, the Swans have Aliir Aliir in a rare vein of form down back and he does have a few good lieutenants down there but it won’t be enough to dampen the multifaceted Demon fire power that is fed by the best young midfield in the competition.

The times have changed, the wait is over and the weight is off our shoulders.

Melbourne by 36 points.

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