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Found 42 results

  1. READY FOR THE KILL by Whispering Jack A couple of weeks ago, we breathed a sigh of relief when two of Hawthorn's most important players lost the plot and earned themselves a few weeks holiday courtesy of the AFL system which punishes such indiscretions as whacking unsuspecting opponents in the head and the like. It didn't take long for the suspensions of Luke Hodge and Jordan Lewis to have a negative impact on the Hawks. Their surprise defeat at the hands of the GWS Giants put them three games behind competition leader Fremantle and, even at this early stage of proceedings that makes the possibility of them having to negotiate an interstate final a likely outcome given the line-up of teams currently near the top of the table. All this spells trouble for Melbourne reeling from consecutive big losses at the hands of two of those big guns and now staring down the barrel at a confrontation with the wounded reigning premiers. They are not likely to take the Demons easily or give any concessions but rather will approach this clash with a heightened sense of "unsociability" given how problematic a surprise defeat at the hands of an AFL minnow would be to its prospects of pulling off an AFL premiership "threepeat". So Melbourne fans going to Saturday afternoon's away game at the MCG should not draw any solace from the fact that Hodge and Lewis are going to be sitting in the stands along with one or two of their key defenders. Hawthorn will come out fully pumped, ready for the kill and out to add to its imposing string of impressive wins (eleven in a row) mostly by huge winning margins stretching out to almost a decade. And sadly, judging by how meekly their opponents have succumbed in the past couple of matches, they won't need to whack any heads to achieve that feat again on Saturday. THE GAME Hawthorn v Melbourne at the MCG Saturday 16 May 2015 at 2.10pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Hawthorn 83 wins Melbourne 74 wins At MCG Hawthorn 42 wins Melbourne 35 wins Last 5 meetings Hawthorn 5 wins Melbourne 0 wins The Coaches Clarkson 1 win Roos 0 wins MEDIA TV Fox Sports Channel 3 at 2.00pm (live) RADIO - Triple M 3AW THE BETTING Hawthorn $1.13 to win Melbourne $6.00 to win THE LAST TIME THEY MET Hawthorn 17.13.115 defeated Melbourne 9.11.65 in Round 20, 2014 at the MCG It was just another one of the many since Melbourne beat them on a Friday night in 2006 before the deluge came for the Demons. Nothing changed. They came out. Went bang. We lost by 50 points. THE TEAMS HAWTHORN B: Shaun Burgoyne, James Frawley, Ben Stratton HB: Grant Birchall, Josh Gibson, Taylor Duryea C: Bradley Hill, Sam Mitchell, Matthew Suckling HF: Isaac Smith, Jack Gunston, Cyril Rioli F: Ben McEvoy, Jarryd Roughead, Luke Breust FOLL: Jonathon Ceglar, Paul Puopolo, Liam Shiels I/C: Ryan Schoenmakers, Will Langford, Angus Litherland, Billy Hartung EMG: Daniel Howe, Jonathan Simpkin, Tim O'Brien IN: James Frawley, Angus Litherland OUT: Jed Anderson, Brendan Whitecross MELBOURNE B: Christian Salem, Tom McDonald, Colin Garland HB: Jack Grimes, Lynden Dunn, Jeremy Howe C: Daniel Cross, Nathan Jones, Heritier Lumumba HF: Angus Brayshaw, Jesse Hogan, Rohan Bail F: Jeff Garlett, Chris Dawes, Aaron Vandenberg FOLL: Jake Spencer, Dom Tyson, Bernie Vince I/C: Matt Jones, Viv Michie, Billy Stretch, Jimmy Toumpas EMG: Max Gawn, Ben Newton, Cameron Pedersen IN: Rohan Bail, Jack Grimes, Matt Jones, Viv Michie OUT: Jay Kennedy-Harris (groin), Ben Newton, Cam Pedersen, Jack Watts Hawthorn's reputation is not only one of "unsociability" but it is also completely ruthless and, unfortunately for Melbourne, that streak has come out the most this year when the Hawks have been recently wounded. You only need to look at how they bounced back after losses to Essendon and Port Melbourne by flogging the Western Bulldogs and North Melbourne to know that there will be no complacency in the camp after their upset loss to Greater Western Sydney which was their first ever to one of the two new franchise clubs. The problem for Melbourne is that it has almost picked the wrong week to come up against Hawthorn. Sure, it would have been much worse had Hodge, Lewis and Lake been available but the Hawks have a happy knack of being able to cover their losses reasonably well. Even without their two highly regarded midfielders, they have the likes of Sam Mitchell and Shaun Burgoyne in the heart of the ground with dangerous players like Cyril, Brad Hill and Liam Shiels thereabouts and they have class everywhere on the ground. This should all prove to much for the Demons whose stocks are somewhat depleted. Even with their best 22 available they would struggle but this week, it could get ugly. Hawthorn by 57 points.
  2. PATTERNS by Whispering Jack Halfway through the second quarter at StarTrack Oval last Saturday, the Demons were seemingly cruising through their game against the Giants. Leading by five goals and having kept their opponents down to a solitary goal, they loosened their hold on the game after Jeff Garlett had goaled at the ten minute mark. They allowed GWS too much latitude and it was only their poor finishing that kept them at bay. Late in the quarter and against the run of play, Ben Newton goaled to give his team a game high lead of 33 points in the shadows of half time. The game's defining moment however, came a minute and a half later when Cam McCarthy was provided with the opportunity to reply before the half time siren, the first of fourteen unanswered goal before Newton chimed in with his second and his team's last in a humiliating stanza of play. The pattern that was set late in the second term was familiar. Melbourne fans saw it some weeks ago during the NAB Challenge match in Ballarat against the Bulldogs when the team let slip an even larger lead standing by helplessly as that game was almost lost to another avalanche of goals. In other games, we have seen the team also commit dramatic lapses in play - in the first round at home, they were good enough to come back from these on three occasions but the question now is whether the pattern set at grounds far from home will be repeated and what can the coaches and players do to arrest a disturbing situation in which opposition teams are able to cut the team like butter through a knife. It won't be easy this Saturday against an in-form Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval because the Crows have established a pattern of their own which is to destroy all that comes before them. THE GAME Adelaide v Melbourne v at the Adelaide Oval Saturday 18 April, 2015 at 2.10 pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Adelaide 21 wins Melbourne 12 wins At Adelaide Oval Adelaide 0 wins Melbourne 1 win Past five meetings Adelaide 3 wins Melbourne 2 wins The Coaches Welsh 0 wins Roos 0 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Sports 3 at 2:00pm (live) RADIO - SEN THE BETTING Adelaide to win - $1.05 Melbourne to win - $7.25 THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 11.4.70 defeated Adelaide 9.13.67 Round 7, 2014 at Adelaide Oval The Demons hadn't won in Adelaide for more than a decade but the got the early jump on the Crows to lead by 28 points at the main break. Nathan Jones and Jack Grimes courageously led the side home and despite a second half fightback from the home team to cause a major upset. THE TEAMS Adelaide Crows B: Luke Brown, Daniel Talia, Rory Laird HB: Jake Kelly, Kyle Hartigan, Brodie Smith C: Ricky Henderson, Scott Thompson, Matthew Jaensch HF: Cam Ellis-Yolmen, Taylor Walker, Charlie Cameron F: Eddie Betts, Patrick Dangerfield, Tom Lynch FOLL: Sam Jacobs, Rory Sloane, Nathan Van Berlo I/C: Richard Douglas, Josh Jenkins, David Mackay, Matthew Wright EMG: Matt Crouch, Mitch Grigg, Jarryd Lyons IN: Jake Kelly, Scott Thompson OUT: Kyle Cheney (hamstring), Mitch Grigg NEW: Kelly Melbourne B: Colin Garland, Lynden Dunn, Jeremy Howe HB: Neville Jetta, Tom McDonald, Christian Salem C: Daniel Cross, Heritier Lumumba, Sam Frost HF: Dean Kent, Jesse Hogan, Bernie Vince F: Jeff Garlett, Chris Dawes, Jack Watts FOLL: Mark Jamar, Dom Tyson, Nathan Jones I/C: Angus Brayshaw, Jay Kennedy-Harris, Ben Newton, Aaron vandenBerg EMG: Jack Grimes, Viv Michie, Jake Spencer IN: Jay Kennedy-Harris OUT: Jack Viney (leg) Over the past fortnight, the full force of the Adelaide Football Club has been unleashed upon North Melbourne and Collingwood, two clubs that were far more highly fancied this season than Melbourne. On that basis what are the chances of the Demons producing a second consecutive upset win over the Crows on their own home turf? Not much, say the pundits who include those who frame the odds and have decided that that the home side has seven times Melbourne's chances of winning. Much of this is due to the meltdown of the Demon midfield from the middle of the second term of their game against the powerful engine room of the Greater Western Sydney Giants who ran them off their feet at StarTrack Oval last week. Given that one of the few shining lights of that defeated Melbourne on ball brigade will be missing in action at Adelaide Oval, the negativity about their chances is understandable. And that's before one considers how the visitors will contend with the likes of Tex Walker and Paddy Dangerfield. They certainly need a major turnaround in form from the likes of Nathan Jones, Dom Tyson and Bernie Vince if they are to get to within 10 goals. Adelaide by 61 points.
  3. STARTRACK: THE FINAL FRONTIER by Whispering Jack This week, Melbourne goes on the road to the AFL's final frontier, the national capital Canberra, where it takes on another of the AFL's new franchise clubs in the Greater Western Sydney Giants. Both clubs won their opening rounds but they are considered to be a long way behind the AFL's elite teams and in a different stratosphere completely to the reigning premier, Hawthorn. A win at StarTrak Oval, Manuka will mean a lot to the victor - it will provide confidence, credibility and an excellent starting point for the long year ahead. To the vanquished it will make the long year ahead feel even a little bit longer. Needless to say, a win is important for both clubs. Melbourne has been down for a long time and one wonders how long it can keep treading water. And even though they have been gifted so many drafting concessions in their formative years, the Giants are not without problems of their own - Difficult times for Greater Western Sydney For Melbourne, last week's win, albeit against an undermanned opposition with its main man severely restricted due to not having fully recovered from his shoulder injury, was therapeutic to its players, management and staff and most of all, its supporters to who the adjective "long-suffering" has well and truly outworn its welcome. After all these years there was a light at the end of the tunnel and it was neither a mirage nor an express train rumbling down the tracks on its way to cause wreckage and further untold damage to our collective pride. It was a supreme team effort. Every one of the twenty-two players including the seven debutants played his part and for the first time in a long while, the talk of the town around Melbourne is how do you fit two players - one returning from injury, the other from suspension - into the team and who would be the unlucky player or players omitted in order to make way for them. There's something else about this game that also needs to be said. At the last meeting between these teams, Melbourne wasn't just beaten badly, it was smashed and left badly bleeding after a shameful, shambolic display of ineptitude. Up to about two thirds of that team is likely to be playing at Manuka this Saturday and if they have any pride in their ability as footballers they will be out to atone for that performance. There are some obvious reasons why I am confident that they can reverse that horrific outcome. For one, the team has some marking targets and clever smalls up forward and for another, they are more focussed, aggressive and hitting the scoreboard. Although they were well beaten by the Giants last year, the Demons had only four scoring shots less than the winners. They have straightened up and are playing more direct football and though the home side will be no pushover, there's no reason why they shouldn't avenge their two 2014 losses to the AFL's newest franchise team to give themselves and their fans yet another much needed boost. THE GAME GWS Giants at StarTrack Oval, Saturday 11 April, 2015 at 2.10pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall GWS Giants 3 wins Melbourne 3 wins At StarTrak Oval GWS Giants 0 wins Melbourne 1 win Past five meetings GWS Giants 3 wins Melbourne 2 wins The Coaches Cameron 2 wins Roos 0 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Sports 3 at 2.00pm (live) RADIO - SEN THE BETTING GWS Giants to win - $1.46 Melbourne to win - $2.70 THE LAST TIME THEY MET GWS Giants 15.8.98 defeated Melbourne 3.16.34 at the MCG Round 21, 2014 This game saw Melbourne sink to its lowest ebb in a disappointing season. It was bad enough to lose on the MCG to the newest franchise team by 64 points but to score only three goals for the day and only one (against thirteen) in the final three quarters after starting the game as firm favourites was nothing short of humiliating. And it all happened on Members Appreciation Day. THE TEAMS GWS GIANTS B: Heath Shaw, Phil Davis, Joel Patfull HB: Nick Haynes, Aidan Corr, Rhys Palmer C: Tommy Bugg, Callan Ward, Tom Scully HF: Lachie Whitfield, Jeremy Cameron, Cam McCarthy F: Adam Treloar, Adam Tomlinson, Josh Kelly FOLL: Shane Mumford, Stephen Coniglio, Dylan Shiel I/C: Toby Greene, Ryan Griffen, Devon Smith, Nathan Wilson EMG: Matt Buntine, Andrew Phillips, Zac Williams IN: Nathan Wilson OUT: Curtly Hampton (omitted) MELBOURNE B: Colin Garland, Lynden Dunn, Jeremy Howe HB: Neville Jetta, Tom McDonald, Christian Salem C: Daniel Cross, Heritier Lumumba, Ben Newton HF: Dean Kent, Jesse Hogan, Jack Viney F: Jeff Garlett, Chris Dawes, Jack Watts FOLL: Mark Jamar, Dom Tyson, Nathan Jones I/C: Angus Brayshaw, Sam Frost, Bernie Vince, Aaron vandenBerg EMG: Jay Kennedy-Harris, Viv Michie, Jake Spencer IN: Chris Dawes, Bernie Vince OUT: Jay Kennedy-Harris, Jimmy Toumpas (both omitted) Melbourne impressed last week with an uncharacteristic style of ball movement that we've rarely witnessed in recent seasons. The defence held tight, particularly in the first half when it conceded only three goals to the Suns. The midfield was neat and impressive and shared the ball around so that it was not left to the few to carry the load and there was plenty of run and contested marking power up forward. The Giants will certainly test them out with their pace and movement in the middle of the ground thanks to the likes of Adam Treloar, Lachie Whitfield, Dylan Shields and Toby Greene while Jeremy Cameron, Cam McCarthy and Adam Tomlinson will test the Melbourne defence. Shane Mumford gave the Demons a workout in the ruck last year and his duel with a rejuvenated Mark Jamar will be crucial to the outcome of this game. The Giants are playing their first home game at their home away from home, StarTrack Oval, Canberra. Their problem however, is that they don't really play well at this venue having just one win from nine games there. They played at Manuka three times last year without victory. Melbourne won there at their only meeting in round 21, 2012 when they emerged 25-point victors. The Dees have played five times in the ACT for two wins. Melbourne is in good form and has been further bolstered by the return from suspension of Chris Dawes and of Bernie Vince from a hamstring injury. These players should give the team the edge in experience which, combined with the fact that the Demons are buoyed with confidence, comfortable with this venue and are capable of using their new found aggression and size to advantage, should see them win their second successive game for a perfect start to the 2015 season. Melbourne by 17 points.
  4. I was reflecting recently about the impending arrival of the new AFL season and I came to the conclusion that it is fitting that the capital city of the Northern Territory, whose government is a relationship partner of the Melbourne Football Club, was named after English naturalist Charlie Darwin. Darwin, whose theory of evolution was expounded in On the Origin of Species described the process of natural selection as being a matter of the "survival of the fittest" and, as fate would have it, this is becoming a catch phrase that best sums up the early part of the AFL season still very much in its infancy. It's a phenomenon that happens often at this time of year when the teams are not all yet at the peak of their fitness. In the first game of the round last Friday night, Collingwood and Fremantle went hammer and tong in the opening quarter before the Dockers took control in the second and blew the Magpies off Etihad Stadium. The following afternoon and evening saw the two new franchise teams in action with the Giants sending shock waves through the competition disposing of their neighbours and one of the premiership favourites with a withering six goal onslaught in the final 15 minutes of the game. That night the Suns overcame the loss of two players in the first half by overpowering the Tigers and, as if that wasn't enough, Port Adelaide left Carlton literally breathless in its wake on Sunday night. Melbourne coach Paul Roos summed it up neatly when he said: "Hard-running teams I think teams are fitter going into this year than they have in the past few years they've now adjusted to three on the bench and theyre adjusting to 120 subs. Theyre probably the main things Ive noticed." From a technical point of view, it was Freo, coached by Roosy's former Fitzroy teammate in Ross Lyons which employed the forward press and zone to expose Collingwood in a clinical decimation that emphasised the importance of fitness and in particular, midfield grunt. So whilst many Melbourne supporters are crying over, as yet unspilt milk due to the absence due to injury of its three power forwards and a couple of ruckmen, they are overlooking the fact that when their team runs out on Saturday night to take on an equal injury-depleted St. Kilda at Etihad Stadium, they will do so with a substantial influx of midfielders who are fit and can run. Moreover, by adopting a conservative approach with his injured players, Roos and Dave Misson who have been reunited after their success at Sydney, are ensuring that the team is best placed to follow the trend of fitness first that has been so evident with all of the round's winning teams to date. That is not to say that the big men will not be missed up forward but we shouldn't forget that St. Kilda's defence is also very much depleted and it's midfield, without last year's best and fairest Jack Steven, Lenny Hayes, Leigh Montagna and in the wake of recent departures of Nick dal Santo and Ben McEvoy, is not what it used to be four or five years ago when that club came literally within centimetres of winning a premiership flag. I do think that while the first round is important to the club, Roos' main mission is not dependent on the result of this one game. The Melbourne team of the future will evolve in time and I expect that there will be plenty of highs and lows and lots of frustration over a journey that will take a while before a successful outcome for the club is achieved. I see a style based on defence but the skills and strength of the young team need to be worked on and that will not happen overnight. After all, it took a five year voyage on The Beagle before Charlie Darwin was able to produce his theory on natural selection. I'm not suggesting that Roos will take that long (after all, he's been given less than half the time) but his track record as a player and a coach suggests that any team with which he is involved will usually have the capacity to compete against and survive among the very fittest. THE GAME St. Kilda v Melbourne at Etihad Stadium Saturday 22 March, 2014 at 7.40 pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall St. Kilda 86 wins Melbourne 118 wins 1 drawn At Etihad St. Kilda 4 wins Melbourne 3 wins Past five years St. Kilda 6 wins Melbourne 0 wins The Coaches Richardson 0 wins Roos 0 wins MEDIA TV - TBA RADIO - TBA THE BETTING St. Kilda to win - $2.35 Melbourne to win - $1.62 THE LAST TIME THEY MET St. Kilda 16.8.104 defeated Melbourne 10.9.69, Round 13, 2013 at Etihad Stadium The Saints were off to a flier in Neil Craig's first game as stand in coach for the Demons who made a reasonably promising fist of things after the first quarter break. Nathan Jones was Melbourne's best while the better players for the Saints that day - Montagna, Steven and Dal Santo - won't be taking the field on Saturday night. THE TEAMS ST. KILDA B: Sean Dempster, Luke Delaney, James Gwilt HB: Nathan Wright, Dylan Roberton, Jimmy Webster C: Jack Newnes, Luke Dunstan, Farren Ray HF: Clint Jones, Nick Riewoldt, Josh Saunders F: Rhys Stanley, Beau Maister, Eli Templeton FOLL: Tom Hickey, David Armitage, Shane Savage I/C: Jack Billings, Thomas Curren, Jarryn Geary, Sam Gilbert EMG: Trent Dennis-Lane Tom Lee Sebastian Ross NEW: Jack Billings (Oakleigh Chargers), Luke Delaney (North Melbourne), Luke Dunstan (Woodville-West Torrens), Shane Savage (Hawthorn), Eli Templeton (Burnie Dockers) MELBOURNE B: Dean Terlich, James Frawley, Jack Grimes HB: Lynden Dunn, Tom McDonald, Bernie Vince C: Jimmy Toumpas, Jack Watts, Dom Tyson HF: Rohan Bail, Jack Fitzpatrick, Daniel Cross F: Shannon Byrnes, Cam Pedersen, Jeremy Howe FOLL: Jake Spencer, Nathan Jones, Jack Trengove I/C: Viv Michie, Matt Jones, Jay Kennedy-Harris, Alex Georgiou EMG: Daniel Nicholson, Sam Blease, Michael Evans NEW: Daniel Cross (Western Bulldogs), Alex Georgiou (Norwood), Jay Kennedy-Harris (Oakleigh Chargers), Viv Michie (Fremantle), Dom Tyson (Greater Western Sydney), Bernie Vince (Adelaide) LONG TIME BETWEEN DRINKS The memory of Melbourne's last victory over St. Kilda hasn't quite dimmed yet. It was an elimination final played at night at the MCG and Brock McLean played a starring role as light misty rain fell intermittently over the ground. He was going to be our next star but it didn't quite work out that way. Since then the two teams have met nine times in seven and a half seasons and on each occasion Melbourne has fallen. Not only that, but in a similar timespan the club has failed every time it has ventured to the Docklands. Sooner or later, the club has to drive the monkey from its back and this Saturday night presents the Demons with their best opportunity to atone for humiliation of those losses. If the Saints are looking forward into a distant horizon when they state they're aspiring to be premiers by the end of the decade then tomorrow will be nothing more than a first stepping stone into that brand new future but they are taking that step in the absence of many of their dwindling band of good footballers. Key midfielders Lenny Hayes, Leigh Montagna and Jack Steven, plus Sam Fisher and Adam Schneider are all among the missing while Sam Gilbert would have to be a doubtful starter given his interrupted pre season. So despite the fact that the Demons also go into the game with an undermanned forward line (with no Chris Dawes, Mitch Clark and Jesse Hogan) and last year's best defender Colin Garland out with an ankle injury, not to mention talls Mark Jamar and Max Gawn who are also unavailable, the bookies still rate them a chance. And so do I. I don't have the data available but it would not surprise me at all if the number of new players in a red and blue jumper (actually you can add a slab of white to that combination to ensure that there's a clash of colours with the host team) for the season opener against St Kilda at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night is higher than for any first round game in half a century - all the way back to the mid 1960s when the club was in rebuild mode at the end of the Norm Smith era. Paul Roos and the recruiting team have attacked the weakness in the club's midfielder by importing Daniel Cross, Bernie Vince, Dom Tyson and Viv Michie from other AFL clubs and have also added mature age defender Alex Georgiou and small forward Jay Kennedy-Harris to play their first AFL matches. That's a nice combination of a wealth of experience and some enthusiastic youth added to spice up the team against the ailing Saints but the most important additional element is the coach himself - an astute man with great knowledge, people skills and a mission to succeed which should turn football history on its head. Melbourne by 13 points.
  5. I hate Hawthorn more than any club in the competition and by a long way. I dislike there supporters, in fact the only two times I have come close to belting someone at the footy was last year against Hawthorn when some low life got into the trident reserved area with his mates and got right on our faces and my brother who is a Hawthorn supporter after Jimmy ran across the mark. The underlying issue I have with Hawthorn is that we the MFC are their Bi..hes, their whipping boys, they own us and have done for some time. We talk about '87, the '88 through the early 90's and especially over the past 9 years. 2004 they sucked winning 4 games beat us round 1, 2005 Hawthorn Sucked winning 5 matches, they beat us, 2006 one year we smashed them and this would be the last win over them, the loss round 1 2008 was smashing, they destroyed us and basically have done so every game since. 2011 we had them at half time to be absolutely smashed in the third quarter. This week if they decide to beat us by 120 points they will. We move into Sunday, I will be their but unless our team can show some sort of fight It could be only for a very short time. The Biff is out of the game but we need to start something in the first quarter, all in just hopefully may fire us up and get them off there game. Hawthorn in 2008 played unsocial football, every chance they had to stick an elbow in your ribs and annoy the crap out of you the did, this is what we need to do. If it gets heated so be it a few fines, god knows our players haven't deserved their full match payments over the past 9 weeks anyway. I heard Dermie talking about the Hawthorn/Essendon game I believe 2006 or 07, the frustration on the past players was the Hawthorn had become Esseondons Whipping boys, they still got beaten that game but the next they won and haven't lost to them since. It was the turning point for that young inexpereinced Group.
  6. SNAPSHOT by Whispering Jack It was reported on the Demons website during the week that Melbourne coach Mark Neeld said that in last week's game against Carlton his team displayed a glimpse of its future. Certainly, at times, there were snapshots of the way that were moving our football club forward absolutely no question, he said. There was a snapshot there lets enjoy the journey and get on board with these young boys. The boys who took the field on the weekend, Ive got a feeling that theyre going to be around for quite a while. This comes on the back of a 61 point defeat in which Carlton doubled Melbourne's score and, apart from the first 8½ minutes, the Blues were well in control of the game. The basis of the glimpse into future claim stems from the raw statistic of games played by the players making up the respective sides. Carlton not only doubled Melbourne's score but it also had almost double the number of games in its players' legs (more than double once Demon co-captain Jack Grimes broke his collarbone and had to be subbed off for first gamer Dean Kent). They fielded a team featuring 1109 games experience to the Blues 2165. With eight players coming away from the game with 68 games in total, the lack of experience was plainly obvious and, while that group contained a couple of tall lads, the deficiency in size and physical strength was a clear factor that enabled Carlton to break away at any time it looked as if there was a remote threat to the five goal lead it had developed in a short time during the first quarter (and yet the lead was just a little over six goals at one stage early in the last). The eight players and their games played were: ■ James Strauss (19) ■ Jake Spencer (17) ■ Michael Evans (8) ■ Max Gawn (7) ■ Matt Jones (6) ■ Dean Terlich (5) ■ Jack Viney (5) ■ Dean Kent (1) Neeld, himself lacking in coaching experience with less than 30 games under his belt, has constantly raised the inexperience factor in explaining his team's slow development and poor results over his tenure but we live in times when immediate results are the order of the day and Ken Hinkley is showing him up over at Port Adelaide with a 5-1 win loss record at an equally inexperienced club. On Sunday, the moment of truth will arrive. The Gold Coast Suns are also inexperienced although they do have the best player in the competition and a man whose skills and ability overshadow all else that will be on the field of play. As a young coach Neeld has had to contend with far more than most would on entering this most demanding profession and although his toughest assignment has always been the need to turn around what for want of a better description has become a dysfunctional culture at the club after years of incompetence in the areas of recruiting, player development and coaching, he faces the prospect of being eaten up by the very same culture if his team is unable to match it with a team of equally experienced counterparts. In the absence of Jack Grimes for several weeks due to his injury and in light of Jack Trengove's form slump, Nathan Jones has been given a co-captain's role. He has already shown great leadership without the captain tag and he has big shoulders. One hopes that he can continue to lead by the example of endeavour and strength he has routinely shown through the dark times, as otherwise, the critics will continue to harp on and call for his coach's head. It doesn't seem to be fair that a coach should not be given time to see his plan through but thats the AFL for you. If Neelds team is unable to show some more concrete and definite signs of moving forward, the jungle drums will keep on beating and the calls for a replacement coach will continue to be heard more loudly. The snapshot of the future might be a very ugly one for the coach and his players a little after 7.00pm on Sunday. THE GAME Melbourne v Gold Coast at the MCG Sunday 12 May 2013 at 4.40pm. HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 3 wins Gold Coast 0 wins MCG Melbourne 2 wins Gold Coast 0 wins Since 2000 Melbourne 3 wins Gold Coast 0 wins The Coaches Neeld 1 win McKenna 0 wins MEDIA TV Fox Footy Channel (live) Radio ABC THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 16.12.108 defeated Gold Coast Suns 9.12.66 in round 19, 2012 at the MCG. The Demons had a great opening term booting six unanswered goals and spent the rest of the time coasting to win by 42 points, Brad Green booted five goals and Jeremy Howe and Nathan Jones had field days against an opposition that only had two performers you know who and Harley Bennell. THE BETTING Melbourne $2.10 to win Gold Coast $1.77 to win THE TEAMS MELBOURNE Backs Lynden Dunn James Frawley Dean Terlich Half backs Daniel Nicholson Tom McDonald Colin Garland Centreline Rohan Bail Jack Viney Matthew Jones Half forwards Jeremy Howe Chris Dawes Colin Sylvia Forwards Luke Tapscott Max Gawn Shannon Byrnes Followers Jake Spencer Michael Evans Nathan Jones Interchange Dean Kent Jordie McKenzie James Strauss James Sellar Emergencies Aaron Davey Troy Davis David Rodan In Chris Dawes James Sellar Out Jack Grimes (collar bone) Jack Trengove (calf) GOLD COAST SUNS Backs Trent McKenzie Tom Murphy Sam Day Half backs David Swallow Rory Thompson Broughton Centreline Matthew Shaw Gary Ablett Harbrow Half forwards: Harley Bennell Tom Lynch Jesse Lonergan Forwards Brandon Matera Steven May Aaron Hall Followers Zac Smith Jaeger OMeara Dion Prestia Interchange Jarrod Brennan Campbell Brown Jack Hutchins Danny Stanley Emergencies Clay Cameron Luke Russell Tim Sumner In Campbell Brown Jack Hutchins Steven May Out Charlie Dixon (ankle) Karmichael Hunt (hamstring) Michael Rischitelli BLUEY'S BLOOPER Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna is fortunate he's coaching where he's so far out of the public gaze that he doesn't have to put up with eagle-eyed critics who dwell on his every word looking for inconsistencies to justify why he should be sacked. Earlier this week, he was quoted in the Herald Sun as saying it was unlikely that Campbell Brown would be rushed back into the Suns' line-up now that his six match suspension had come to an end. Bluey said his team was already carrying a few bodies struggling to get through a full game and to bring Brown straight back for the clash with Melbourne might be "a risk too far". When Brown was selected on Thursday might, there was a suggestion on the Courier Mail website that he was included to rough up the young Demons but that story has mysteriously disappeared and in it's place is one that says Brown's inclusion was "to shock underperforming pair Brandon Matera and Aaron Hall into action". Make of this what you will but it seems to me that the Suns' coach is in a state of panic and is already waving the white flag. His team had the opportunity of a lifetime to knock off the injury-riddled Dockers on their own home turf last week but they were brushed off like flies. Now, he has completely compromised his principles and resorted to the desperate act of picking a veteran coming off no match practice to throw his weight around. That's the attitude of a loser who must be dreading the thought of losing the one ace he has up his sleeve in the form of Gary Ablett Junior without who his team might as well not turn up on Sunday evening against the Demons. Ablett has been under an injury cloud for several weeks and my mail is that he's been close to being rested for a mystery ailment. It's likely that he will come up against an in form Lynden Dunn, who despite the distraction of having a mum who rings up talk back radio, has returned from injury in ripping form. After a top game on comeback as a defender in the VFL, he took Brownlow Medallist Chris Judd apart last week, keeping him down to just 13 touches and drastically limiting his effectiveness around the ground (pity about the rest of the Blues' midfield). Dunn has shown he has the mongrel to take on his second Brownlow Medal winning opponent in consecutive weeks and if he succeeds there will be plenty of people, including the bookies, with egg on their faces this week. I can't for the life of me work out why people are throwing their money away by betting against Melbourne on the strength of the omission through injury of the co-captains. Jack Grimes was always going to be an "out" and Jack Trengove contributed only six touches against Carlton. Meanwhile, the Suns have lost their top goalkicker Dixon, one of the few matchwinners in their history in Hunt and Michael Rischitelli who was dropped but has always proved a bit of a thorn in the side for the Demons. Melbourne gains Chris Dawes to add to its forward line where it was undermanned badly last week and James Sellar as a back up who performed well there in the pre season. This is a perfect opportunity for the team to reload on confidence and I'm looking for some break out performances from players like James Strauss and Luke Tapscott who are ready to step up a notch. Melbourne by 55 points.
  7. Just over twelve months ago on the eve of the Round 2 West Coast Eagles game in Perth, I wrote that the way in which Melbourne approached that particular fixture would define the playing group, given its poor start to the season under then new coach Mark Neeld. The result was an even more insipid performance by the team than the week before and it was followed by more of the same for the majority of the season. A full year later, the team in a different form with a number of new faces repeated the dose in Round 2 against Essendon. This time, it was another defeat in excess of 100 points but far worse and in front of an angry MCG crowd. What we gathered from that was an undercurrent of disaffection between the playing group and those who control it. That means the board and administration, the coaches and yes, ultimately the supporter group. The disconnect was there to see - a repeat of the disgrace that came to be known as "186", a day when the players appeared to down tools and withdraw their labour. Alternatively, if you want to be charitable it was at the very least, a failure to perform to even the minimum acceptable standard in the sport. The supporters were not only let down - they were treated with contempt. If the board, or the administration or the football department deserved that sort of treatment, the supporters certainly did not. Some of the fans will never come back and though I would never put myself in that category, I can hardly say that I blame them. Those who defend the players might well say they owe the supporters nothing; that there were issues that they needed to deal with (and that might well be the case) but what we saw on the playing field was unprofessional and nothing short of deplorable. The thing that most football fans can't really abide from supposed professionals taking the field in their club colours is not doing the basics like running, chasing, tackling and putting pressure on their own opponents. These things are the non-negotiables of our game. I usually disagree with much of what Patrick Smith writes but not when he drew the analogy between Melbourne's ineptitude last week and Essendon's sparkling performance. If one of the two playing groups out there was entitled to rebel against those in control of their club, it should have been the Bombers whose players were led up the garden path in such a scandalous manner when injected out of club premises with substances whose legality and identity they apparently can't now be completely assured of by their club hierarchy. Some might argue that this provides justification for players to rebel against the club for the contempt with which they were treated. But they acted as professionals with a duty to the club that pays their wages, to their loyal supporters and to themselves. Their refusal to tank defined that playing group. This can't be said of the playing group at Melbourne which has now drawn blood in the form of the departing CEO and caused substantial distress to their young coach. Even if there are issues with his coaching, is this how sane and rational people deal with such a situation. Are they now satisfied having blown the lid off the season and brought themselves and their club into disrepute or am I reading this wrongly and our playing group is just inept and incompetent? There's far more to this than just the playing group and a young coach struggling to impose a new systems and standards at the club. We are fractured and hurt by factions that carry with them a destructive mindset that has persisted for close on five decades since the time we dominated the competition and the code. Whatever way you look at it, having fallen in the estimation of the football world, the Demons need to work their butts off to rise again. Perhaps they might heed the words of American author and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson: Now is the time to rise ... THE GAME Melbourne v West Coast Eagles at MCG - Saturday 13 April 2013 at 2:10pm (AEST). HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 15 wins West Coast 28 wins At MCG Melbourne 7 wins West Coast 7 wins Since 2000 Melbourne 7 wins West Coast 12 wins The Coaches Neeld 0 wins Worsfold 1 win MEDIA TV Fox Sports Channel at 2pm (live) RADIO THE BETTING West Coast to win $1.03 Melbourne to win $12.00 LAST TIME THEY MET West Coast 25.16.166 defeated Melbourne 9.4.58 at Patersons Stadium, Round 2, 2012 The Eagles handed out a thrashing, winning by a club record 108 points at Patersons Stadium, dominating the possessions 447-313, not to mention the free kick count which, at one stage read 21-1. Mitch Clark booted five goals and was one of the few shining lights in the gloom of the West. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE Backs Neville Jetta, James Frawley, Dean Terlich Half backs Jack Trengove, Tom McDonald, Colin Garland Centreline Michael Evans, Jack Grimes, Jack Viney Half forwards Matt Jones, Mitch Clark, Jeremy Howe Forwards Aaron Davey James Sellar Shannon Byrnes Followers Mark Jamar Colin Sylvia Nathan Jones Interchange Rohan Bail Cam Pedersen Luke Tapscott Jimmy Toumpas Emergencies David Rodan Jake Spencer Jack Watts In Rohan Bail Michael Evans Neville Jetta Cam Pedersen Luke Tapscott Out Sam Blease Tom Gillies (groin) Daniel Nicholson David Rodan Jack Watts WEST COAST Backs Schofield Glass A Selwood Half backs Hurn Brown Waters Centreline Gaff Priddis Masten Half forwards Embley Kennedy Hams Forwards Darling Hill Le Cras Followers Cox S Selwood Shuey Interchange Butler Cripps Kerr Sinclair Emergencies Brennan Dalziell Wilson In Kerr Le Cras Out Dalziell Sheppard (shoulder) IT'S NOT A PERFECT WORLD by Whispering Jack If we were living in a perfect world, this week would have been the ideal one for Melbourne to confront the West Coast Eagles. The visitors are coming off a six day break from a tough game played in 32 degree heat and have travelled across the continent to play on a ground where they haven't won a game since they surprised Melbourne in the first half of their wooden spoon season of 2010. Since then, the Eagles have lost seven consecutive games on the MCG. Like Melbourne, the Eagles are 0-2 and have not been particularly impressive to date, although admittedly they lost at the hands of some strong opposition. They have some key on field personnel missing and a couple back from injury who might be suspect if put under enough pressure. And there lies the crux of the problem. Pressure. In its two games thus far, the Demons have exerted absolutely zero pressure on their opponents. For a team that has ostensibly trained hard for two pre seasons to develop this aspect of the game, they have given absolutely nothing and on Saturday, they come up against one of the very teams that exposed them so badly in this very area twice in the season before Mark Neeld became coach. Melbourne has selected a marginally better side on paper than the one which has failed abysmally in the past two weeks. The defence is a little less stacked with talls who have no run and exert little defensive pressure. The same can be said of the midfield which has been so static but which remains particularly young and inexperienced. Above all, one must ask whether anything has happened to this group in the past seven days to change its shattered mindset? The removal of the CEO who, on the face of it has ensured that the club's off field finances are "tracking very well" according to the AFL and kept himself apart from the workings of the football department since it was restructured at the end of 2011? Hardly. A day and night of bonding at the Sorrento Hotel followed by a closed training session at Casey Fields? Perhaps. The shame of being booed off the ground by their own supporters, then to be pilloried mercilessly in the media, deservedly so for their sub standard efforts and failure to have a crack or the fear of being the next players demoted? This is the professional era in sport. Many of us were surprised last year when players with plentiful experience at various AFL clubs were delisted but failed to find suitors. It would not surprise if the same thing happened again this year. The Demons need to learn that they are all playing for their football lives if not their team and club and that if they continue to serve up that which they've shown to date, its going to be all over for many of them by year's end. Based on the events of the past week, I can see a little improvement but against a far more desperate Eagles that need the four points and percentage on offer, I don't expect enough improvement to overcome this team's crisis in confidence or for it to show the pride and character of the Bombers who continue to play like professionals despite their own crisis surrounding the club and coach and in which they find themselves right in the middle. Two weeks ago I predicted that Melbourne would be the most unpredictable side in the competition but it's not a perfect world and I was wrong. They now are sadly, the most predictable. West Coast by 72 points.
  8. The long hot summer of 2012-3 will not be forgotten by many of us associated with the Melbourne Football Club but, even as I begin to write, with the temperatures still hovering in the thirties, the questions about the club's future still linger. We are on the brink of a seventh season since the Demons tasted the finals or even won an opening match. The big hitters of the competition seem way ahead of where Melbourne is currently placed in terms of its perceived playing strength and nobody seriously thinks it can challenge for September action this year and perhaps even the next. Supporters can only hope that the coming of autumn finally marks the culmination of one of the worst periods in the club's history, a time in which it might not exactly have hit rock bottom in terms of ladder ranking but otherwise in so many other aspects, it failed to even remotely live up to expectations. The things that brought the club to the dark places it has occupied in recent times are well-documented and have been the subject of heated debate but, as we stand on the brink of a new season, I return to a time exactly two years ago when most Melbourne fans waited with anticipation and a measure of confidence for the opening of a new season. Back then, the club appeared to be on a steep upward curve. At the end of 2010 it had more than doubled its tally of wins to 8½ over the previous year and some pundits were predicting finals action in 2011. Coach Dean Bailey was even on record as suggesting that his then club was possibly on the brink of an era that would bring not just one but many premierships. Brisbane's Michael Voss thought the same way. The first two teams Melbourne faced in 2011 were, by coincidence, the teams that played off for last years premiership. The opening round's opponents were the Sydney Swans who had been given a spanking by Melbourne late the season inflicting some deep wounds on Paul Roos and giving him the biggest defeat of his coaching career just as it was ending. But despite our lofty expectations, the rematch some seven or eight months later was a close and hard fought encounter with the Demons coming back from well behind to take the lead late in the game only to see the Swans claw back in the final desperate moments to give their new coach two premiership points on his debut. From that point onward, the fortunes of two sides that had been so evenly matched that day diverged completely. One marched off with ticker tape and a flag by the end of 2012 while the other wallowed at the foot of the table ahead only of the newly hatched franchises. In the second round of 2011, Melbourne took on Hawthorn who wasted opportunities in the first quarter but were dominated in the second so that moments before the main break they trailed by 27 points. The Dees still enjoyed a three goal buffer when they went into the rooms at half time. It was the third quarter that defined not only this particular game but also the club's following two seasons. The loss of control was so complete that the team stood back helplessly as the relentless Hawks pounded away for the full thirty minutes of that term scoring an incredible 8 goals 11 behinds to one goal and one point. People talk of the 186 game later that season as the measuring stick of the depths to which the club had plumbed but, on reflection, this was the day upon which the writing was truly placed on the wall. I missed that game due to a prior engagement and put the result down to a case of a young developing team hitting a brick wall against a rampant opposition and because it won the next game (against the Suns) so convincingly, the significance of the Hawks' took a while to sink in. Well ... actually, it took another game because the same Melbourne was back on display in the first quarter against West Coast in Perth. It was truly a case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for most of the season until it all finally imploded. Perhaps others saw the team's disintegration in 2011 sooner than I did, but by mid-season it was clear that something was amiss and we now know that there were deep divisions that ended in carnage and turmoil both on and off the field in the year that followed. Controversy, the sacking of the coach after one of the most savage on field beatings in the history of the game, the death of a President, the dismissal of a major sponsor, criminal charges brought against a key player, fabrications and often unwarranted attacks in the media and elsewhere on key club personnel, injuries, leaked information and a 7 month long investigation that belonged to the Middle Ages. These were attended by a time in which we saw a total revamp of the football department so that we now have a bevy of new coaches, medical and fitness staff, almost half the playing group has moved on and there have been changes in body sizes and shapes, fitness, the introduction of a new training regimen and radical changes in playing style. Its fair to say that when we get back to the football on Sunday afternoon, the team that runs out onto the ground against Port Adelaide will be substantially different to that which carried our hopes into battle two years ago against the Swans and, for that matter, even twelve months ago against the Lions in last year's season opener. The question is whether the club is better off for all the changes that have been made? THE GAME Melbourne v Port Adelaide Sunday 31 March, 2013 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, 1:10pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 11 wins Port Adelaide 14 wins At the MCG Melbourne 7 wins Port Adelaide 1 wins Since 2000 Melbourne 8 wins Port Adelaide 12 wins MEDIA TV FOX FOOTY CHANNEL - 1:00pm LIVE Radio ABC Triple M 3AW SEN THE BETTING Melbourne to win $1.82 Port Adelaide to win $2.00 THE LAST TIME THEY MET Port Adelaide 12.12.84 defeated Melbourne 8.8.56 at TIO Stadium, Darwin, Round 17, 2012. Melbourne made a solid start on a temperate Darwin evening booting five goals in the first quarter before it was torn apart by a dominant Port Adelaide midfield led by Travis Boak who was still weighing up his future with that club. Jack Grimes played a solid but not spectacular captain's game but otherwise, it was an all too familiar scenario for the Demons as they limped their way towards the season's end. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE Backs Lynden Dunn Tom Gillies Dan Nicholson Half backs Jack Watts James Frawley Colin Garland Centreline Jack Viney Jack Grimes Jimmy Toumpas Half forwards Jeremy Howe James Sellar Colin Sylvia Forwards Shannon Byrnes Mitch Clark David Rodan Followers Mark Jamar Jordie McKenzie Nathan Jones Interchange Sam Blease Matthew Jones Cameron Pedersen Luke Tapscott Emergencies Aaron Davey Jake Spencer Dean Terlich New Shannon Byrnes (Geelong) Tom Gillies (Geelong) Matt Jones (Box Hill VFL) Cameron Pedersen (North Melbourne) David Rodan (Port Adelaide) Jimmy Toumpas (Woodville-West Torrens SANFL) Jack Viney (Casey VFL) PORT ADELAIDE Backs Tom Jonas Jackson Trengove Campbell Heath Half backs Jasper Pittard Cameron O'Shea Lewis Stevenson Centreline Matthew Broadbent Brad Ebert Kane Cornes Half forwards Justin Westhoff Paul Stewart Angus Monfries Forwards Chad Wingard Jay Schulz Jake Neade Followers Jarrad Redden Hamish Hartlett Travis Boak Interchange Matthew Lobbe Kane Mitchell Andrew Moore Oliver Wines Emergencies Jack Hombsch Daniel Stewart Aaron Young New Campbell Heath (Sydney) Kane Mitchell (Claremont WAFL) Angus Monfries (Essendon) Jake Neade (North Ballarat U18) Lewis Stevenson (West Coast) Oliver Wines (Murray U18) PREDICTION by Whispering Jack When Mark Neeld's stint as coach began 12 months ago, most Demon fans had high expectations for the season ahead and certainly, very few were prepared for the season from hell that eventuated. Six months later, it was clear that the club's reaction to a 16th place finish that was only marginally ahead of the AFL's two new expansion franchises was swift, decisive and far ranging. Over the two months that followed, a third of the playing list was turned over but the changes were expected by those who had watched the team closely during 2012 and who had listened to the words of Mark Neeld and Neil Craig. The heads that rolled were mainly those of players who simply hadn't worked hard enough or bought in to the new style they were seeking to instill into the young team. The only departure who figured high in the club's best and fairest award was Jared Rivers, in his late twenties, and facing the prospect of being squeezed out of defence by young guns Jack Watts and Tom McDonald and a resurgent Lynden Dunn. So it came as no surprise when the Melbourne selection table installed seven new faces into the team to take on Port Adelaide, thereby retaining that magic ratio of new players at one third. The minute the number of new faces was announced, the so-called "experts" looked to the heavens, rolled their eyes and declared the Demons to be dead in the water. What they ignored was the fact that the visitors had also named a large contingent of newcomers including 150 game player Angus Monfries but, in terms of experience, he's well and truly shaded by Melbourne's two new 100 gamers in Shannon Byrnes and David Rodan. The mind games have also been well and truly in play with Ken Hinkley emphasising that he was only interested in playing fit players in his team - Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley puts fitness first in round one selection, the inference being that his opponents were going into the game with underdone players. The Demons will certainly have Mitch Clark lacking in match fitness but he's playing at one end of the ground and he's been working well to a programme throughout the summer. A few others hadn't played for a couple of weeks but they bring a much stronger fitness base into the game. The Demons did leave out Chris Dawes, Tom McDonald and co-captain Jack Trengove who must have all been close to selection. The new look Melbourne side gives the game a new dimension in that, whilst it's generally considered (going on past performances) that its all-important midfield is at the bottom end of accepted AFL standards and well below those of the leading teams in the competition, we simply don't know how the infusion of so many newcomers will affect the situation. It is for this reason that we simply cannot assess how much the team will advance in 2014. The pundits tell us that Brent Moloney, who polled 19 Brownlow votes in 2011, will be a big loss but they forget how poor he was last year and that he ended the season looking decidedly uninterested even down at Casey. I'll back the keenness and enthusiasm of untried trio Matt Jones, Jimmy Toumpas and Jack Viney and the wisdom and experience of Byrnes and Rodan over what last year's midfield served up last year. And the team has Nathan Jones and Jack Grimes to lead the way, Jordie McKenzie hungry to conquer the opposition's best and some expectations from Sam Blease and Colin Sylvia to add to the mix. Unpredictable - yes and more likely to be the least predictable midfield in the competition, but definitely not hopeless as some might paint things. To my mind, the most significant aspect of selection was the decision to leave out Aaron Davey - a demonstration perhaps that the club's depth is greater and that reputations and the past no longer matter when picking teams. And while Port Adelaide might hold a slight advantage in the middle, I put Melbourne ahead with Mark Jamar in the ruck, a much stronger defence and an edge in attack. That, together with a powerful home ground advantage should be enough to get Melbourne home. Melbourne to win by 27 points ... and one more prediction ... if the above is the outcome of the team's opening round match, then not a single club official will be looking grim faced as he leaves the ground.
  9. TEN YEARS AFTER by William from West Perth The hardy band of long-suffering Demon followers of the most prosperous state in the Commonwealth welcome back their team on Saturday night in the hope that it can turn on something better than it has on previous visits dating back more than a decade. Only once in that time has Melbourne tasted victory west of the Nullarbor and that was on a rainy day at Subiaco in Round 11, 2004. It was Brock McLean's breakout game and Peter Vardy lit up the ground with his # 19 jumper. But I missed that game and the last time I saw a Melbourne win in these parts was against the Eagles in Round 19, 2002 when the Demons fell in by 6 points to break a three game losing streak and secure a place in the finals. I remember that day well. Travis Johnstone was in sizzling form and Adem Yze was not far behind him. Ironically, the Eagles hadn't lost all year in Perth. Melbourne fought back after being jumped in the first quarter and booted seven to one in the second. West Coast came back in the third before Melbourne delivered with the wind in the last. That was Sunday, 11 August, 2002 and it was a far cry from Melbourne's last visit to WA when we were humiliated y the Eagles on a hot April day early this season. In the absence of Mitch Clark to kick five goals in a single handed performance, who knows how large the West Coast Eagles winning margin would have been? This week against the purple haze, there will be no Mitch Clark and a number of others from the Demon visit to the ground will also be among the missing. We won't have a chance to farewell Brad Green either because he has hung up his boots. The Dockers swamped us in the final term at Etihad just a few weeks ago kicking 7 goals to nil and the last nine of the game to turn a three goal deficit into a 34 point win and that was when Freo was out of form! Three weeks later they demolished West Coast by 75 points on the very ground on which Saturday night’s game is being played. No doubt as a result, Sportsbet is offering me $12.00 the win for the Demons! Still, I am an unabashed supporter and I will be there to farewell the team at the end of its dreadful 2012 and hope that 2013 will bring much better things to come. THE GAME Fremantle v Melbourne at Patersons Stadium, Saturday 1 September at 7.40pm (AEST) HEAD TO HEAD Overall Fremantle 15 wins Melbourne 13 wins Patersons Stadium Fremantle 8 wins Melbourne 3 wins Since 2000 Fremantle 11 wins Melbourne 9 wins The Coaches Lyon 1 win Neeld 0 wins MEDIA TV Fox Footy Channel at 7:30pm Channel 7 (live) RADIO SEN ABC774 THE BETTING Fremantle $1.03 Melbourne $12.00 THE LAST TIME THEY MET Fremantle 18.9.117 defeated Melbourne 12.11.83 Round 16, 2012 at Etihad Melbourne led for the first three quarters but its grip on the game was loosened as a result of injuries to Mark Jamar and Jamie Bennell while one or two other were wonky. The Dockers, with Matthew Pavlich starring ran all over the locals who had put in a strong performance earlier in the game but wilted badly at the end. THE TEAMS FREMANTLE Backs Adam McPhee Luke McPharlin Zac Dawson Half backs Lee Spurr Michael Johnson Paul Duffield Centreline Michael Barlow Ryan Crowley Tendai Mzungu Half forwards Michael Walters Christopher Mayne David Mundy Forwards Hayden Ballantyne Matthew Pavlich Clancee Pearce Followers Aaron Sandilands Nathan Fyfe Stephen Hill Interchange Jonathon Griffin Garrick Ibbotson Thomas Sheridan Nicholas Suban Emergencies Zachary Clarke Jesse Crichton Dylan Roberton In Jonathon Griffin Matthew Thomas Sheridan Out Kepler Bradley (concussion), Zachary Clarke Matthew de Boer (ankle) MELBOURNE Backs Joel Macdonald James Sellar Tom McDonald Half backs Jack Watts James Frawley Lynden Dunn Centreline Jack Trengove Jordie McKenzie Jack Grimes Half forwards Luke Tapscott Colin Garland Rohan Bail Forwards Jeremy Howe Jared Rivers Sam Blease Followers Mark Jamar Colin Sylvia Nathan Jones Interchange Jack Fitzpatrick Neville Jetta Daniel Nicholson Josh Tynan Emergencies Jordan Gysberts Jake Spencer James Strauss In Jack Fitzpatrick Mark Jamar Josh Tynan Out Brad Green (retired) Jake Spencer James Strauss Milestone Jared Rivers 150 games Things move very quickly in AFL football. A week ago, nobody expected the door to the finals to be shut tight at this point in time. There were many Docker supporters around my workplace who feared their team would lose to the rampant Kangaroos once Matthew Pavlich was ruled unfit for last weekend's game. The expectation was also that Carlton would give Gold Coast a hammering, a result thay would have put the Blues in the eight leaving the Dockers supporters with a nervous week in the lead up to a challenging round that could easily have seen their finals hopes in tatters. Well things turned out differently with the Gold Coast Suns scoring a sensational victory over Carlton (goodbye Brett Ratten) and Fremantle knocking over North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium. With the top eight done and dusted, the game on Saturday night assumes a different level of importance. For the visitors it's still one of the toughest games on its fixture but one wonders how the Dockers are going to approach the game. On the one hand, there is the view that Fremantle, armed with the knowledge of the outcome of other games played earlier in the round, will tailor its game accordingly. If an eighth place finish gives it the benefit of a home final Derby against a fifth placed finishing West Coast then there are some who might argue, a moderate sized win or even a loss becomes the priority. The flaw with this concept is that, as I pointed out above, things move quickly in the AFL. With Essendon meeting Collingwood at the same time, a shock result in that game would leave egg on the face for Ross Lyon because their first final would suddenly become an away game at the MCG against the Magpies. I don't think they will flirt with their form on the eve of only the third final series in their history - especially as they've just struck a rich vein of form in recent weeks. I expect Matthew Pavlich to suit up for the game and Aaron Sandilands needs a big warm up after an injury interrupted season. There will be no surprise omissions, no strange positional moves and no tanking. Besides which they don't need them based on the look of the young side selected by Melbourne for this game. Many far more experienced Demon outfits in the past have struggled with the configuration of this ground. I just can't see them troubling the home side. Mark Jamar is back but has played little football in the back half of the season and will struggle against the tallest bloke in the competition. The midfield is capably led by Nathan Jones, who has had a great season, but in its entirety, it lacks the strength and experience. Colin Sylvia is coming good at this late stage but the forward line, lacked the goalkicking ability even before Brad Green retired and I don't expect miracles in his absence. The best we might expect in terms of excitement are some exciting speccies from Jumping Jeremy Howe but in any event ... Fremantle by 36 points
  10. TEN YEARS AFTER by William from West Perth The hardy band of long-suffering Demon followers of the most prosperous state in the Commonwealth welcome back their team on Saturday night in the hope that it can turn on something better than it has on previous visits dating back more than a decade. Only once in that time has Melbourne tasted victory west of the Nullarbor and that was on a rainy day at Subiaco in Round 11, 2004. It was Brock McLean's breakout game and Peter Vardy lit up the ground with his # 19 jumper. But I missed that game and the last time I saw a Melbourne win in these parts was against the Eagles in Round 19, 2002 when the Demons fell in by 6 points to break a three game losing streak and secure a place in the finals. I remember that day well. Travis Johnstone was in sizzling form and Adem Yze was not far behind him. Ironically, the Eagles hadn't lost all year in Perth. Melbourne fought back after being jumped in the first quarter and booted seven to one in the second. West Coast came back in the third before Melbourne delivered with the wind in the last. That was Sunday, 11 August, 2002 and it was a far cry from Melbourne's last visit to WA when we were humiliated y the Eagles on a hot April day early this season. In the absence of Mitch Clark to kick five goals in a single handed performance, who knows how large the West Coast Eagles winning margin would have been? This week against the purple haze, there will be no Mitch Clark and a number of others from the Demon visit to the ground will also be among the missing. We won't have a chance to farewell Brad Green either because he has hung up his boots. The Dockers swamped us in the final term at Etihad just a few weeks ago kicking 7 goals to nil and the last nine of the game to turn a three goal deficit into a 34 point win and that was when Freo was out of form! Three weeks later they demolished West Coast by 75 points on the very ground on which Saturday night’s game is being played. No doubt as a result, Sportsbet is offering me $12.00 the win for the Demons! Still, I am an unabashed supporter and I will be there to farewell the team at the end of its dreadful 2012 and hope that 2013 will bring much better things to come. THE GAME Fremantle v Melbourne at Patersons Stadium, Saturday 1 September at 7.40pm (AEST) HEAD TO HEAD Overall Fremantle 15 wins Melbourne 13 wins Patersons Stadium Fremantle 8 wins Melbourne 3 wins Since 2000 Fremantle 11 wins Melbourne 9 wins The Coaches Lyon 1 win Neeld 0 wins MEDIA TV Fox Footy Channel at 7:30pm Channel 7 (live) RADIO SEN ABC774 THE BETTING Fremantle $1.03 Melbourne $12.00 THE LAST TIME THEY MET Fremantle 18.9.117 defeated Melbourne 12.11.83 Round 16, 2012 at Etihad Melbourne led for the first three quarters but its grip on the game was loosened as a result of injuries to Mark Jamar and Jamie Bennell while one or two other were wonky. The Dockers, with Matthew Pavlich starring ran all over the locals who had put in a strong performance earlier in the game but wilted badly at the end. THE TEAMS FREMANTLE Backs Adam McPhee Luke McPharlin Zac Dawson Half backs Lee Spurr Michael Johnson Paul Duffield Centreline Michael Barlow Ryan Crowley Tendai Mzungu Half forwards Michael Walters Christopher Mayne David Mundy Forwards Hayden Ballantyne Matthew Pavlich Clancee Pearce Followers Aaron Sandilands Nathan Fyfe Stephen Hill Interchange Jonathon Griffin Garrick Ibbotson Thomas Sheridan Nicholas Suban Emergencies Zachary Clarke Jesse Crichton Dylan Roberton In Jonathon Griffin Matthew Thomas Sheridan Out Kepler Bradley (concussion), Zachary Clarke Matthew de Boer (ankle) MELBOURNE Backs Joel Macdonald James Sellar Tom McDonald Half backs Jack Watts James Frawley Lynden Dunn Centreline Jack Trengove Jordie McKenzie Jack Grimes Half forwards Luke Tapscott Colin Garland Rohan Bail Forwards Jeremy Howe Jared Rivers Sam Blease Followers Mark Jamar Colin Sylvia Nathan Jones Interchange Jack Fitzpatrick Neville Jetta Daniel Nicholson Josh Tynan Emergencies Jordan Gysberts Jake Spencer James Strauss In Jack Fitzpatrick Mark Jamar Josh Tynan Out Brad Green (retired) Jake Spencer James Strauss Milestone Jared Rivers 150 games Things move very quickly in AFL football. A week ago, nobody expected the door to the finals to be shut tight at this point in time. There were many Docker supporters around my workplace who feared their team would lose to the rampant Kangaroos once Matthew Pavlich was ruled unfit for last weekend's game. The expectation was also that Carlton would give Gold Coast a hammering, a result thay would have put the Blues in the eight leaving the Dockers supporters with a nervous week in the lead up to a challenging round that could easily have seen their finals hopes in tatters. Well things turned out differently with the Gold Coast Suns scoring a sensational victory over Carlton (goodbye Brett Ratten) and Fremantle knocking over North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium. With the top eight done and dusted, the game on Saturday night assumes a different level of importance. For the visitors it's still one of the toughest games on its fixture but one wonders how the Dockers are going to approach the game. On the one hand, there is the view that Fremantle, armed with the knowledge of the outcome of other games played earlier in the round, will tailor its game accordingly. If an eighth place finish gives it the benefit of a home final Derby against a fifth placed finishing West Coast then there are some who might argue, a moderate sized win or even a loss becomes the priority. The flaw with this concept is that, as I pointed out above, things move quickly in the AFL. With Essendon meeting Collingwood at the same time, a shock result in that game would leave egg on the face for Ross Lyon because their first final would suddenly become an away game at the MCG against the Magpies. I don't think they will flirt with their form on the eve of only the third final series in their history - especially as they've just struck a rich vein of form in recent weeks. I expect Matthew Pavlich to suit up for the game and Aaron Sandilands needs a big warm up after an injury interrupted season. There will be no surprise omissions, no strange positional moves and no tanking. Besides which they don't need them based on the look of the young side selected by Melbourne for this game. Many far more experienced Demon outfits in the past have struggled with the configuration of this ground. I just can't see them troubling the home side. Mark Jamar is back but has played little football in the back half of the season and will struggle against the tallest bloke in the competition. The midfield is capably led by Nathan Jones, who has had a great season, but in its entirety, it lacks the strength and experience. Colin Sylvia is coming good at this late stage but the forward line, lacked the goalkicking ability even before Brad Green retired and I don't expect miracles in his absence. The best we might expect in terms of excitement are some exciting speccies from Jumping Jeremy Howe but in any event ... Fremantle by 36 points
  11. THE GREEN MILE by Whispering Jack The last home game of the season is to be played at the ungodly hour of 4.40pm on a Sunday night in late winter and, because it's against Adelaide and the forecast is for a shower or two, one wonders whether a crowd will turn up to farewell Brad Green who will play his 254th game proudly wearing the number 18 guernsey for the last time in a distinguished career with the Melbourne Football Club. It would be a shame if the Demon faithful fail to turn up to celebrate the occasion. This season has been a long, hard and eventful one but for all the wrong reasons. While the passion and the generosity of the Melbourne fans at Tuesday night's Foundation Heroes Dinner was encouraging, the curtain will come down this week on the difficult era in which Green played in a pall of gloom but, as always, there is hope for better times on the horizon. Brad Green arrived at the Melbourne Football Club at another low moment in its history at the end of the last century. The Demons had recently admitted to breaching the AFL's salary cap and, as a consequence, were sanctioned by way of fines and the loss of their first draft pick at the 1999 National Draft which would have been selection five. Ironically, that pick was given to Fremantle who selected Leigh Brown of the Gippsland Power who is currently an assistant coach at Melbourne. The club's first pick that year became selection 19 and it chose wisely when it named young Brad Green from the Tasmanian Under 18s. Green was a versatile young all round sportsman who had played representative cricket and soccer as a teenager, captaining the Australian under-15 cricket team. He was scouted by Manchester United and spent time in training at Old Trafford before deciding to concentrate on our game. Years into his career, commentators would always reprise the connection with the great soccer club whenever they were caught short for words while Green was present on the playing field. Things immediately turned around for the club in Green's first year as it rose from 14th to make the 2000 Grand Final where it fell to a great side in Essendon, a tough, match-hardened team brim full of experience that lost only one game that year and took the opportunity to maul its younger opponents into submission on its way to the premiership. The young Green, who was a star in the other finals and had booted four goals in the semi final against Carlton was bashed in the throat and ended in hospital. He hadn't lasted a quarter in the season's ultimate game. It was ironical that when Melbourne's current coach spoke at this week's Foundation Heroes Dinner, he highlighted the fact that the team he now has at his disposal suffered from its inexperience of an average of roughly sixty games per player against the leading clubs whose make up is nearly double that figure - a differential of two to three seasons per player on average. This was not dissimilar to the gulf between the two participants that one day in September, a dozen years away in a year in which Green, Cameron Bruce, Paul Wheatley and Matthew Whelan were all introduced to the club from a draft in which it was deprived of its first pick. Green grew with the club and established himself in a number of roles. He was equally adept in the middle, in defence, on a wing, half forward or deep in the forward line where his accurate kicking for goal was a feature of his game. The club was strong enough to contest the finals in most of those early years under Neale Daniher but never enough to make it to the last two weeks in September (actually, that 2000 grand final was played in the first week of September due to the forthcoming Olympic Games in Sydney). In 2006, the Demons finished fifth but were the highest placed of all the Victorian teams. Off the field, the club had endured in-fighting when two separate factions emerged in the wake of the dismissal of Joseph Gutnick as its chairman and further controversy affected its fortunes when Gabriel Szondy suddenly resigned amid accusations of incompetence and mismanagement of the CEO. Rarely during the past decade or so have the Demons been without some form of off-field wrangling and controversy which still manages to dog them to this very day. At the start of 2007, hopes for the team were high but it fell into a form of football recession, one from which it is yet to emerge. Wooden spoons and early draft picks followed and these have led to charges of cheating and the current round of tanking allegations. On the ground, the club has failed to rise above twelfth position in the past six seasons and it currently sits close to the foot of the ladder. Through all of the gloom, Brad Green stood out like a beacon in a stellar career that has now spanned more than 250 games and 348 goals (hopefully, he will make it to 350 on Sunday evening). In 2010, he had his best season, kicking 55 goals and taking 153 marks. He made the All-Australian squad and won the Keith 'Bluey' Truscott Medal along with the Ron Barassi Leadership Award and the "Heart and Soul" Award stamping him as the ideal successor for the captaincy of the Demons, after the retirement of James McDonald. He skippered his country in the round ball 2011 International Rules series against Ireland and was the only Australian to kick a goal during the series with many commentators describing this goal as a "captain's goal". His leaving is soured to an extent by the club's recent history. When the club fell on hard times and was close to broke during its 150th season in 2008, a new Board headed by the legendary Jimmy Stynes took over to lead its fight for survival. The debt was broken and the club was ultimately able to provide its players with better facilities and an upgrade in the amount of personnel available but some discontentment in the background culminated in the now infamous loss at Geelong on 30 July 2011 that led to the sacking of coach Dean Bailey. In the wash up that followed the appointment of the new coach, Green lost the captaincy and his place in the leadership group for this year and was then struck by injury and loss of form that wiped out most of the first half of his current and final season that even saw him playing a few games with the Casey Scorpions. He returned in the way that great players do and recently kicked a bag against Gold Coast as the team stormed to a seven goal win at the MCG. And so the time has come for Brad Green and one suspects, some of the other club elders as a new generation emerges to take up fresh challenges in changing times. I look upon the end of his illustrious career in much the same way as that of the biblical Moses who took a whole generation through the wilderness but never made it to the Promised Land. THE GAME Melbourne v Adelaide at the MCG 26 August 2012 at 4.40pm (AEST) HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 11 wins Adelaide 19 wins At MCG Melbourne 7 wins Adelaide 5 wins Since 2000 Melbourne 6 wins Adelaide 11 wins The coaches Neeld 0 wins Sanderson 0 wins MEDIA TV Fox Footy Channel – live at 4.30pm. RADIO SEN ABC774 3AW Triple M THE BETTING Melbourne to win $6.00 Adelaide to win $1.13 LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 22.17.149 defeated Adelaide 8.5.53 at the MCG Round 7, 2011 Less than 20,000 fans (actually 19,987) turned up to watch the Demons demolish a poor Adelaide outfit at the MCG but the game turned out to be a disaster for the Demons even though they won by 16 goals. Jack Grimes injured his foot only minutes from the start and missed the rest of the year and Mark Jamar was also injured during the game and forced to miss several weeks. Jack Trengove was reported and suspended for a sling tackle on Patrick Dangerfield. Ricky Petterd, Colin Sylvia kicked four goals each and Liam Jurrah three while Brent Moloney was his team's best. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE Backs Joel Macdonald Colin Garland Tom McDonald Half backs Jack Watts, James Frawley, Lynden Dunn Centreline Jack Trengove Jordie McKenzie Jack Grimes Half forwards Sam Blease Jared Rivers Rohan Bail Forwards Jeremy Howe Brad Green Neville Jetta Followers Jake Spencer Colin Sylvia Nathan Jones Interchange Daniel Nicholson James Sellar James Strauss Luke Tapscott Emergencies Matthew Bate Tom Couch Jordan Gysberts In Daniel Nicholson Out Tom Couch Milestone: James Frawley 100 games ADELAIDE Backs Graham Johncock Ben Rutten Sam Shaw Half backs Brodie Smith Daniel Talia Michael Doughty Centreline Bernie Vince Nathan van Berlo David Mackay Half forwards Jared Petrenko Taylor Walker Richard Douglas Forwards Jason Porplyzia Kurt Tippett Matthew Wright Followers Sam Jacobs Scott Thompson Patrick Dangerdfield Interchange Luke Brown Ian Callinan Brent Reilly Aidan Riley Emergencies Josh Jenkins Tom Lynch Jarryd Lyons In Jason Porplyzia Aidan Riley Brodie Smith Out Chris Knights Josh Jenkins Rory Sloane (elbow) The Demons have already played their part in the downfall of one premiership contender earlier in the year when they caused a major shock in beating the Bombers. Ever since that game Essendon has been in freefall and if you composed a ladder for the second half of the year it would sit below Melbourne in the pecking order. Now it's the moment of truth for Adelaide whose credentials in the top four have been questioned because its fixture looked much easier than the other contenders. A week ago, the Crows were coasting towards a top two finish and a home final in the first week of the finals with Brisbane, Melbourne and Gold Coast left on their roster but their shock loss to the Brisbane Lions after holding a 38 point quarter time lead has served as a wake up call. They now need to win both remaining games and do so by reasonable margins to strengthen their position going into the finals. Melbourne has languished through the season without showing much credibility and will be aiming to finish the season strongly to hold it in good stead for the future. The Demons' record against the Crows on the MCG is good and the last time they met, it was an easy 16 goal win for the home side. Times have changed but with Adelaide suddenly shaky, Melbourne has another opportunity to upset a premiership contender. And what a great way that would be to send of a great servant of the club like Brad Green? For the Demons to get over the Crows they must get on top in the midfield against an opponent that boasts the dynamic Scott Thompson and Patrick Dangerfield together with an array of foot soldiers who can run and spread as well as any in the land. It is their midfield, its improvement and its consistency that has been instrumental in lifting them from the depths under the adept coaching of Brenton Sanderson. It also has a strong spine with Walker and Tippett dangerous up forward and Rutten and the much improved Talia down back. In comparison, the Demons don't have the midfield depth and while they are solid in defence, they've struggled all year up forward and more so since the injuries to Mitch Clark, Ricky Petterd and the demise of Liam Jurrah. For these reasons and the fact that the Crows have too much to lose if it can't come home with the four points, I'm tipping them to win but not by much. Adelaide by 11 points.
  12. THE GREEN MILE by Whispering Jack The last home game of the season is to be played at the ungodly hour of 4.40pm on a Sunday night in late winter and, because it's against Adelaide and the forecast is for a shower or two, one wonders whether a crowd will turn up to farewell Brad Green who will play his 254th game proudly wearing the number 18 guernsey for the last time in a distinguished career with the Melbourne Football Club. It would be a shame if the Demon faithful fail to turn up to celebrate the occasion. This season has been a long, hard and eventful one but for all the wrong reasons. While the passion and the generosity of the Melbourne fans at Tuesday night's Foundation Heroes Dinner was encouraging, the curtain will come down this week on the difficult era in which Green played in a pall of gloom but, as always, there is hope for better times on the horizon. Brad Green arrived at the Melbourne Football Club at another low moment in its history at the end of the last century. The Demons had recently admitted to breaching the AFL's salary cap and, as a consequence, were sanctioned by way of fines and the loss of their first draft pick at the 1999 National Draft which would have been selection five. Ironically, that pick was given to Fremantle who selected Leigh Brown of the Gippsland Power who is currently an assistant coach at Melbourne. The club's first pick that year became selection 19 and it chose wisely when it named young Brad Green from the Tasmanian Under 18s. Green was a versatile young all round sportsman who had played representative cricket and soccer as a teenager, captaining the Australian under-15 cricket team. He was scouted by Manchester United and spent time in training at Old Trafford before deciding to concentrate on our game. Years into his career, commentators would always reprise the connection with the great soccer club whenever they were caught short for words while Green was present on the playing field. Things immediately turned around for the club in Green's first year as it rose from 14th to make the 2000 Grand Final where it fell to a great side in Essendon, a tough, match-hardened team brim full of experience that lost only one game that year and took the opportunity to maul its younger opponents into submission on its way to the premiership. The young Green, who was a star in the other finals and had booted four goals in the semi final against Carlton was bashed in the throat and ended in hospital. He hadn't lasted a quarter in the season's ultimate game. It was ironical that when Melbourne's current coach spoke at this week's Foundation Heroes Dinner, he highlighted the fact that the team he now has at his disposal suffered from its inexperience of an average of roughly sixty games per player against the leading clubs whose make up is nearly double that figure - a differential of two to three seasons per player on average. This was not dissimilar to the gulf between the two participants that one day in September, a dozen years away in a year in which Green, Cameron Bruce, Paul Wheatley and Matthew Whelan were all introduced to the club from a draft in which it was deprived of its first pick. Green grew with the club and established himself in a number of roles. He was equally adept in the middle, in defence, on a wing, half forward or deep in the forward line where his accurate kicking for goal was a feature of his game. The club was strong enough to contest the finals in most of those early years under Neale Daniher but never enough to make it to the last two weeks in September (actually, that 2000 grand final was played in the first week of September due to the forthcoming Olympic Games in Sydney). In 2006, the Demons finished fifth but were the highest placed of all the Victorian teams. Off the field, the club had endured in-fighting when two separate factions emerged in the wake of the dismissal of Joseph Gutnick as its chairman and further controversy affected its fortunes when Gabriel Szondy suddenly resigned amid accusations of incompetence and mismanagement of the CEO. Rarely during the past decade or so have the Demons been without some form of off-field wrangling and controversy which still manages to dog them to this very day. At the start of 2007, hopes for the team were high but it fell into a form of football recession, one from which it is yet to emerge. Wooden spoons and early draft picks followed and these have led to charges of cheating and the current round of tanking allegations. On the ground, the club has failed to rise above twelfth position in the past six seasons and it currently sits close to the foot of the ladder. Through all of the gloom, Brad Green stood out like a beacon in a stellar career that has now spanned more than 250 games and 348 goals (hopefully, he will make it to 350 on Sunday evening). In 2010, he had his best season, kicking 55 goals and taking 153 marks. He made the All-Australian squad and won the Keith 'Bluey' Truscott Medal along with the Ron Barassi Leadership Award and the "Heart and Soul" Award stamping him as the ideal successor for the captaincy of the Demons, after the retirement of James McDonald. He skippered his country in the round ball 2011 International Rules series against Ireland and was the only Australian to kick a goal during the series with many commentators describing this goal as a "captain's goal". His leaving is soured to an extent by the club's recent history. When the club fell on hard times and was close to broke during its 150th season in 2008, a new Board headed by the legendary Jimmy Stynes took over to lead its fight for survival. The debt was broken and the club was ultimately able to provide its players with better facilities and an upgrade in the amount of personnel available but some discontentment in the background culminated in the now infamous loss at Geelong on 30 July 2011 that led to the sacking of coach Dean Bailey. In the wash up that followed the appointment of the new coach, Green lost the captaincy and his place in the leadership group for this year and was then struck by injury and loss of form that wiped out most of the first half of his current and final season that even saw him playing a few games with the Casey Scorpions. He returned in the way that great players do and recently kicked a bag against Gold Coast as the team stormed to a seven goal win at the MCG. And so the time has come for Brad Green and one suspects, some of the other club elders as a new generation emerges to take up fresh challenges in changing times. I look upon the end of his illustrious career in much the same way as that of the biblical Moses who took a whole generation through the wilderness but never made it to the Promised Land. THE GAME Melbourne v Adelaide at the MCG 26 August 2012 at 4.40pm (AEST) HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 11 wins Adelaide 19 wins At MCG Melbourne 7 wins Adelaide 5 wins Since 2000 Melbourne 6 wins Adelaide 11 wins The coaches Neeld 0 wins Sanderson 0 wins MEDIA TV Fox Footy Channel – live at 4.30pm. RADIO SEN ABC774 3AW Triple M THE BETTING Melbourne to win $6.00 Adelaide to win $1.13 LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 22.17.149 defeated Adelaide 8.5.53 at the MCG Round 7, 2011 Less than 20,000 fans (actually 19,987) turned up to watch the Demons demolish a poor Adelaide outfit at the MCG but the game turned out to be a disaster for the Demons even though they won by 16 goals. Jack Grimes injured his foot only minutes from the start and missed the rest of the year and Mark Jamar was also injured during the game and forced to miss several weeks. Jack Trengove was reported and suspended for a sling tackle on Patrick Dangerfield. Ricky Petterd, Colin Sylvia kicked four goals each and Liam Jurrah three while Brent Moloney was his team's best. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE Backs Joel Macdonald Colin Garland Tom McDonald Half backs Jack Watts, James Frawley, Lynden Dunn Centreline Jack Trengove Jordie McKenzie Jack Grimes Half forwards Sam Blease Jared Rivers Rohan Bail Forwards Jeremy Howe Brad Green Neville Jetta Followers Jake Spencer Colin Sylvia Nathan Jones Interchange Daniel Nicholson James Sellar James Strauss Luke Tapscott Emergencies Matthew Bate Tom Couch Jordan Gysberts In Daniel Nicholson Out Tom Couch Milestone: James Frawley 100 games ADELAIDE Backs Graham Johncock Ben Rutten Sam Shaw Half backs Brodie Smith Daniel Talia Michael Doughty Centreline Bernie Vince Nathan van Berlo David Mackay Half forwards Jared Petrenko Taylor Walker Richard Douglas Forwards Jason Porplyzia Kurt Tippett Matthew Wright Followers Sam Jacobs Scott Thompson Patrick Dangerdfield Interchange Luke Brown Ian Callinan Brent Reilly Aidan Riley Emergencies Josh Jenkins Tom Lynch Jarryd Lyons In Jason Porplyzia Aidan Riley Brodie Smith Out Chris Knights Josh Jenkins Rory Sloane (elbow) The Demons have already played their part in the downfall of one premiership contender earlier in the year when they caused a major shock in beating the Bombers. Ever since that game Essendon has been in freefall and if you composed a ladder for the second half of the year it would sit below Melbourne in the pecking order. Now it's the moment of truth for Adelaide whose credentials in the top four have been questioned because its fixture looked much easier than the other contenders. A week ago, the Crows were coasting towards a top two finish and a home final in the first week of the finals with Brisbane, Melbourne and Gold Coast left on their roster but their shock loss to the Brisbane Lions after holding a 38 point quarter time lead has served as a wake up call. They now need to win both remaining games and do so by reasonable margins to strengthen their position going into the finals. Melbourne has languished through the season without showing much credibility and will be aiming to finish the season strongly to hold it in good stead for the future. The Demons' record against the Crows on the MCG is good and the last time they met, it was an easy 16 goal win for the home side. Times have changed but with Adelaide suddenly shaky, Melbourne has another opportunity to upset a premiership contender. And what a great way that would be to send of a great servant of the club like Brad Green? For the Demons to get over the Crows they must get on top in the midfield against an opponent that boasts the dynamic Scott Thompson and Patrick Dangerfield together with an array of foot soldiers who can run and spread as well as any in the land. It is their midfield, its improvement and its consistency that has been instrumental in lifting them from the depths under the adept coaching of Brenton Sanderson. It also has a strong spine with Walker and Tippett dangerous up forward and Rutten and the much improved Talia down back. In comparison, the Demons don't have the midfield depth and while they are solid in defence, they've struggled all year up forward and more so since the injuries to Mitch Clark, Ricky Petterd and the demise of Liam Jurrah. For these reasons and the fact that the Crows have too much to lose if it can't come home with the four points, I'm tipping them to win but not by much. Adelaide by 11 points.
  13. A BIG LAUGH by The Oracle This season has produced very little for Melbourne supporters to smile about as the club has been hit by disasters off the field and pushed from pillar to post on it. The calamities that have affected the Demons have certainly been well documented and little of it has been funny. This is why I was somewhat puzzled to see the three talking heads on On The Couch giggling away with amusement after showing a film clip of Melbourne Chairman that selectively focussed on part of the comments he made to members at a lunch before last week's game against the Gold Coast Suns concerning the tanking controversy initiated by an interview on the programme with former player Brock McLean. Of course, they would not be laughing if they had to respond to the substantive matters McLardy discussed and about which On The Couch omitted to mention; namely the issues surrounding list management that are a fundamental to our game and which affect most clubs from time to time. And we all know that Melbourne has not been alone here although the panel was apparently collectively inflicted by amnesia about how McLean's current club rorted the system so that they forgot to ask him why, if he held such high principles, did he move on to the Blues of all clubs after leaving the Demons? What McLardy said was reported in the Melbourne Age in rebuttal of claims that McLean had declared on the programme that Melbourne deliberately lost games to gain valuable draft picks (actually McLean described what happened as not tanking but "experimenting" but the facts should never get in the way of a good story) – Demons re-sign key players, Schwab:- I understand how three people with a megaphone and an agenda can misrepresent the club's position and ignore the thrust of what McLardy said but it wasn't funny and it reflected poorly on the presenters of On The Couch. As the great Groucho Marx would say: "I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book." I reckon Groucho must have been thinking about the three clowns on On The Couch. Unfortunately for them, Melbourne produced some winning form last weekend against the Gold Coast Suns. Sure, it wasn't a flashy or convincing win but the margin was 42 points. One might think a win of that size would mean the club could avoid criticism from the usual suspects but a few decided the loss was shameful; the winning margin should have been double that and Melbourne's effort is therefore deemed a failure and indicative of a poor culture. Never mind that the Suns' recent form hasn't been all that bad. On 8 July, they lost to Geelong by 14 points, a week later they beat Richmond by 2 points and after that lost to the Lions by 11 points. Their only recent thumping was at the hands of ladder leader Sydney. The media circus continues with another one-sided stab against Melbourne in today's Age concerning the retirement of Brad Green who has been a great servant of the club and yesterday announced he was leaving at the end of the season. The press conference was conducted with great professionalism and in the style of the club champion the 251 gamer conducted himself throughout his illustrious career. In the circumstances, it was disappointing for the Age to immediately jump in and focus on the whether Melbourne had been disloyal to Green suggesting it should have kept him on irrespective form or the player's drive to continue on further. It will be a matter of much amusement to see whether such an approach will be taken in the case of other impending retirements at clubs like the Western Bulldogs in the weeks to come. To the media gurus who think they know everything, I say you're not funny but you certainly are a joke. Thanks for giving me a big laugh! And now, it's on to the MCG and the Saints who are starting at the ridiculous odds of $1.06 to win. That's funny too. THE GAME St. Kilda v Melbourne at MCG Saturday 11 August, 2012 at 1:45pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall St. Kilda 84 wins Melbourne 118 wins 1 drawn At MCG St. Kilda 32 wins Melbourne 58 wins Since 2000 St. Kilda 9 wins Melbourne 9 wins The Coaches Watters 1 win Neeld 0 wins MEDIA TV Fox Footy Channel Live at 1.30pm Channel 7 (delayed at 3.00pm) RADIO 3AW Triple M THE BETTING St. Kilda to win $1.06 Melbourne to win $9.50 THE LAST TIME THEY MET St. Kilda 12.12.84 defeated Melbourne 10.6.66 Round 5, 2012 at the MCG The teams slugged it out for three quarters going goal for goal in wet conditions on a Saturday night. Mitch Clark was missed and he would have been handy at full forward in the last quarter when the Demons failed to score. THE TEAMS ST. KILDA Backs Jarryn Geary James Gwilt Tom Simpkin Half backs Sean Dempster Sam Fisher Sam Gilbert Centreline Farren Ray Lenny Hayes Brendon Goddard Half forwards Ahmed Saad Nick Riewoldt Nick Dal Santo Forwards Stephen Milne Justin Koschitzke Sam Dunell Followers Ben McEvoy David Armitage Leigh Montagna Interchange Jason Gram Clinton Jones Jack Steven Beau Wilkes Emergencies Jamie Cripps Tom Ledger Dean Polo In Beau Wilkes Out Dean Polo MELBOURNE Backs Joel Macdonald James Sellar Tom McDonald Half backs Lynden Dunn Matthew Bate Colin Garland Centreline Jack Trengove Brent Moloney Sam Blease Half forwards Neville Jetta Jared Rivers Rohan Bail Forwards Jeremy Howe Brad Green Colin Sylvia Followers Jake Spencer Jack Grimes Nathan Jones Interchange Jordie McKenzie James Magner James Strauss Luke Tapscott Emergencies Michael Evans Jack Fitzpatrick Jordan Gysberts In Matthew Bate Neville Jetta Jordie McKenzie Out James Frawley (quad) Jordan Gysberts Cale Morton (shoulder) It's a pity from Melbourne's point of view that Stephen Milne is free to play on Saturday after being fined $3,000 by St Kilda for making a homophobic comment towards Harry O'Brien. The little pest always seems to be the first to kick a goal (or two) in St. Kilda v Melbourne games and the Dees best bet to control the damage he might inflict, Clint Bartram, is languishing on their long injured list which last week stretched to about 15 players. By way of contrast, the Saints have close to a full list of players from which to select their team this week. According to this week's Age, it reads like this: ST KILDA Adam Schneider (hamstring) 1 wk Rhys Stanley (hamstring) 1-2 wks Darren Minchington (hip) season This compares well with the miraculous situation over at Arden Street where this is the situation on an almost weekly basis:- NORTH MELBOURNE Leigh Adams (shoulder) test Tom Curran (foot) season [a late addition to this list is Hamish McIntosh who faces LARS surgery on his knee which also rules him out for the season] The end result is that a full strength St. Kilda which needs to make every post a winner is taking on an emaciated Melbourne which is variously considered as tanking, experimenting, suffering from a losing culture (even when it wins games by seven goals). The game will still have its points of interest. Nathan Jones is having a stellar season and has set a great example to many of his teammates as to how to go about things from the very start of the pre season and right through the highs and mainly the lows of the year. It's a pity that very few have followed that example although Tom McDonald is one who has worked hard to make himself a valued member of the team. He took on Nick Riewoldt last time the teams met and acquitted himself well enough to be given the task again. The two skippers have been under fire for most of the year but are slowly coming of age. Their experience in difficult times will hold them in good stead in the years to come when the team takes on a different shape. Against the Saints, Grimes plays only his 50th game. Trengove reached that mark a few weeks ago. One day their appointment as joint captains may well be seen as an inspired move. At the other end of the scale a rejuvenated Green should continue to kick goals but the Demon forward line is bereft of star players. We might see another mark of the year from high flyer Jeremy Howe but, in reality, there's not enough goal kicking capacity for me to say the Demons will get close to causing an upset. The result is a foregone conclusion - an absolute no brainer with the Saints to win and win well. St. Kilda by 40 points If you want a real laugh I recommend the play GROUCHO commencing on 15 August 2012 for a short season at Chapel Off Chapel. If Demonlanders book tickets and confirm their booking and ticket number with Demonland by PM, a donation of $4.00 per ticket will be made to a charity connected with mental health.
  14. A BIG LAUGH by The Oracle This season has produced very little for Melbourne supporters to smile about as the club has been hit by disasters off the field and pushed from pillar to post on it. The calamities that have affected the Demons have certainly been well documented and little of it has been funny. This is why I was somewhat puzzled to see the three talking heads on On The Couch giggling away with amusement after showing a film clip of Melbourne Chairman that selectively focussed on part of the comments he made to members at a lunch before last week's game against the Gold Coast Suns concerning the tanking controversy initiated by an interview on the programme with former player Brock McLean. Of course, they would not be laughing if they had to respond to the substantive matters McLardy discussed and about which On The Couch omitted to mention; namely the issues surrounding list management that are a fundamental to our game and which affect most clubs from time to time. And we all know that Melbourne has not been alone here although the panel was apparently collectively inflicted by amnesia about how McLean's current club rorted the system so that they forgot to ask him why, if he held such high principles, did he move on to the Blues of all clubs after leaving the Demons? What McLardy said was reported in the Melbourne Age in rebuttal of claims that McLean had declared on the programme that Melbourne deliberately lost games to gain valuable draft picks (actually McLean described what happened as not tanking but "experimenting" but the facts should never get in the way of a good story) – Demons re-sign key players, Schwab:- I understand how three people with a megaphone and an agenda can misrepresent the club's position and ignore the thrust of what McLardy said but it wasn't funny and it reflected poorly on the presenters of On The Couch. As the great Groucho Marx would say: "I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book." I reckon Groucho must have been thinking about the three clowns on On The Couch. Unfortunately for them, Melbourne produced some winning form last weekend against the Gold Coast Suns. Sure, it wasn't a flashy or convincing win but the margin was 42 points. One might think a win of that size would mean the club could avoid criticism from the usual suspects but a few decided the loss was shameful; the winning margin should have been double that and Melbourne's effort is therefore deemed a failure and indicative of a poor culture. Never mind that the Suns' recent form hasn't been all that bad. On 8 July, they lost to Geelong by 14 points, a week later they beat Richmond by 2 points and after that lost to the Lions by 11 points. Their only recent thumping was at the hands of ladder leader Sydney. The media circus continues with another one-sided stab against Melbourne in today's Age concerning the retirement of Brad Green who has been a great servant of the club and yesterday announced he was leaving at the end of the season. The press conference was conducted with great professionalism and in the style of the club champion the 251 gamer conducted himself throughout his illustrious career. In the circumstances, it was disappointing for the Age to immediately jump in and focus on the whether Melbourne had been disloyal to Green suggesting it should have kept him on irrespective form or the player's drive to continue on further. It will be a matter of much amusement to see whether such an approach will be taken in the case of other impending retirements at clubs like the Western Bulldogs in the weeks to come. To the media gurus who think they know everything, I say you're not funny but you certainly are a joke. Thanks for giving me a big laugh! And now, it's on to the MCG and the Saints who are starting at the ridiculous odds of $1.06 to win. That's funny too. THE GAME St. Kilda v Melbourne at MCG Saturday 11 August, 2012 at 1:45pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall St. Kilda 84 wins Melbourne 118 wins 1 drawn At MCG St. Kilda 32 wins Melbourne 58 wins Since 2000 St. Kilda 9 wins Melbourne 9 wins The Coaches Watters 1 win Neeld 0 wins MEDIA TV Fox Footy Channel Live at 1.30pm Channel 7 (delayed at 3.00pm) RADIO 3AW Triple M THE BETTING St. Kilda to win $1.06 Melbourne to win $9.50 THE LAST TIME THEY MET St. Kilda 12.12.84 defeated Melbourne 10.6.66 Round 5, 2012 at the MCG The teams slugged it out for three quarters going goal for goal in wet conditions on a Saturday night. Mitch Clark was missed and he would have been handy at full forward in the last quarter when the Demons failed to score. THE TEAMS ST. KILDA Backs Jarryn Geary James Gwilt Tom Simpkin Half backs Sean Dempster Sam Fisher Sam Gilbert Centreline Farren Ray Lenny Hayes Brendon Goddard Half forwards Ahmed Saad Nick Riewoldt Nick Dal Santo Forwards Stephen Milne Justin Koschitzke Sam Dunell Followers Ben McEvoy David Armitage Leigh Montagna Interchange Jason Gram Clinton Jones Jack Steven Beau Wilkes Emergencies Jamie Cripps Tom Ledger Dean Polo In Beau Wilkes Out Dean Polo MELBOURNE Backs Joel Macdonald James Sellar Tom McDonald Half backs Lynden Dunn Matthew Bate Colin Garland Centreline Jack Trengove Brent Moloney Sam Blease Half forwards Neville Jetta Jared Rivers Rohan Bail Forwards Jeremy Howe Brad Green Colin Sylvia Followers Jake Spencer Jack Grimes Nathan Jones Interchange Jordie McKenzie James Magner James Strauss Luke Tapscott Emergencies Michael Evans Jack Fitzpatrick Jordan Gysberts In Matthew Bate Neville Jetta Jordie McKenzie Out James Frawley (quad) Jordan Gysberts Cale Morton (shoulder) It's a pity from Melbourne's point of view that Stephen Milne is free to play on Saturday after being fined $3,000 by St Kilda for making a homophobic comment towards Harry O'Brien. The little pest always seems to be the first to kick a goal (or two) in St. Kilda v Melbourne games and the Dees best bet to control the damage he might inflict, Clint Bartram, is languishing on their long injured list which last week stretched to about 15 players. By way of contrast, the Saints have close to a full list of players from which to select their team this week. According to this week's Age, it reads like this: ST KILDA Adam Schneider (hamstring) 1 wk Rhys Stanley (hamstring) 1-2 wks Darren Minchington (hip) season This compares well with the miraculous situation over at Arden Street where this is the situation on an almost weekly basis:- NORTH MELBOURNE Leigh Adams (shoulder) test Tom Curran (foot) season [a late addition to this list is Hamish McIntosh who faces LARS surgery on his knee which also rules him out for the season] The end result is that a full strength St. Kilda which needs to make every post a winner is taking on an emaciated Melbourne which is variously considered as tanking, experimenting, suffering from a losing culture (even when it wins games by seven goals). The game will still have its points of interest. Nathan Jones is having a stellar season and has set a great example to many of his teammates as to how to go about things from the very start of the pre season and right through the highs and mainly the lows of the year. It's a pity that very few have followed that example although Tom McDonald is one who has worked hard to make himself a valued member of the team. He took on Nick Riewoldt last time the teams met and acquitted himself well enough to be given the task again. The two skippers have been under fire for most of the year but are slowly coming of age. Their experience in difficult times will hold them in good stead in the years to come when the team takes on a different shape. Against the Saints, Grimes plays only his 50th game. Trengove reached that mark a few weeks ago. One day their appointment as joint captains may well be seen as an inspired move. At the other end of the scale a rejuvenated Green should continue to kick goals but the Demon forward line is bereft of star players. We might see another mark of the year from high flyer Jeremy Howe but, in reality, there's not enough goal kicking capacity for me to say the Demons will get close to causing an upset. The result is a foregone conclusion - an absolute no brainer with the Saints to win and win well. St. Kilda by 40 points If you want a real laugh I recommend the play GROUCHO commencing on 15 August 2012 for a short season at Chapel Off Chapel. If Demonlanders book tickets and confirm their booking and ticket number with Demonland by PM, a donation of $4.00 per ticket will be made to a charity connected with mental health.
  15. IRRELEVANT by Clyde The (former) Clifton Hill Cabbie I don't know if anybody out there remembers me. In my time as one of this great city's leading cab drivers I was well known by all and sundry who used my services to convey them around town for my opinions on politics, religion, sport and a variety of other subjects. I always believed I had a deep knowledge and understanding about our nation's number one sport until one day, this young bloke turned his attention away from his iphone, sat up in the back seat of my taxi cab, angrily snubbed his nose up against the perspex window that divided us and told me to STFU. To him, my opinions on the football were "irrelevant". How dare he? I was a keen student of the game and I got a lot of my inside information from listening to talk back radio and reading the sports pages of the little newspaper which was full of stories written by people who had contacts inside the various league clubs. Surely, the sources of my information were impeccable? Later, after thinking about it a little more, I realised that time was indeed passing me by in this new world of digital electronics and whiz bang gadgets. Perhaps, I was becoming irrelevant? I'm in retirement now. I live in this nice nursing home and although I occasionally get to watch a game on TV, I usually manage to fall asleep even before the result's done and dusted (which these days means by half time). I hardly ever get to read the newspapers because the print's too small and the eyesight's failing and most of the people here knit or play lawn bowls so I don't really know much about what's going on in the AFL any more. I suppose that's what makes me feel even less relevant than ever before. However, I always look forward to that once a year day when one of the good people at Demonland visits me and asks me to write a preview of a Melbourne game for the site. This year's visitor was my old friend The Oracle but he delivered what I regarded at first as the supreme insult when he asked if I would write about the Demons' forthcoming encounter with the Gold Coast Suns. I thought for a while and asked, "who in blazes are the Gold Coast Suns?". He replied that they were one of the new franchises that joined the competition last year. "You mean like Hungry Jacks or Dominoes Pizza?" "No, they're an AFL team that plays at Carrara. Gary Ablett Junior's their captain." "Ablett? Well, that's okay then. Brock'll fix him up." Brock was one of my favourites. The Oracle's next revelation hit me right between the eyes. He told of Brock's defection from Melbourne at the end of 2009 because of a problem he had with the club's "experimentation" that went against the grain of everything he'd ever been taught. So he decided to leave and head to a club whose traditions were seeped in integrity and honesty. I was incredulous as The Oracle explained the events of the week in great detail. There was one thing that puzzled me but no sooner had the words leapt out of my mouth that I realised that my question was totally irrelevant. "You would think with three experienced journalists and commentators doing the interview, one of them would have asked him why a man who held such lofty principles could have possibly gone straight to a club whose reputation not only for tanking but for generally rorting the system was legendary?" It was at this point that all those years of spouting conspiracy theories gripped me and in a moment of inspiration, I understood what this was all about and it had very little to do with the practice of tanking. The whole thing was a set up. The puppeteers were pulling the strings to perfection. The kid who not long ago publicly claimed he contracted aids from somebody's mother had left what passed for his brain in the studio's green room. They knew from the start that he would take the bait and it played itself out perfectly for them. The agenda and the people behind it soon became apparent. As I put this proposition to my visitor, I suddenly felt that I was becoming relevant again. He was almost out of the door when I noticed he had left me with several copies of the sporting sections of the week's newspapers to help with the research for my story. All that was left for me to do was to wade through the rubbish and sift through half a dozen beat ups and testimonies from former players and officials and then I could write my match preview. That was the easy part. The clash between 16th and 17th is a game in which every aspect of team selection and every move that the coaches make is likely to come under scrutiny for all the wrong reasons by suspicious journalists and others struggling to make a sensational story out of nothing. But the game itself is totally irrelevant. THE GAME Melbourne v Gold Coast at the MCG Sunday 5 August 2011 at 1.10pm. HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 2 wins Gold Coast 0 wins MCG Melbourne 1 win Gold Coast 0 wins Since 2000 Melbourne 2 wins Gold Coast 0 wins The Coaches Neeld 0 wins McKenna 0 wins MEDIA TV – Fox Footy Channel at 1:00pm (live) Radio –SEN ABC774 THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 17.10.112 defeated Gold Coast Suns 12.10.82 in round 23, 2011 at the MCG. Oh my god. This was a game so tedious and boring that I was driven to the bar not long after the start of the second quarter. By the time I returned to watch the action fortified by an unknown volume of the amber liquid Melbourne was on its way to a five goal victory. THE BETTING Melbourne $1.33 to win Gold Coast $3.40 to win THE TEAMS MELBOURNE Backs Joel Macdonald James Sellar Tom McDonald Half backs Jack Grimes James Frawley Colin Garland Centreline Jordie McKenzie Jack Trengove Rohan Bail Half forwards Sam Blease Jared Rivers Lynden Dunn Forwards Jeremy Howe Colin Sylvia Brad Green Followers Jake Spencer Brent Moloney Nathan Jones Interchange Jordan Gysberts Cale Morton James Strauss Luke Tapscott Emergencies Jack Fitzpatrick James Magner Josh Tynan In Jordan Gysberts Cale Morton Luke Tapscott Out Neville Jetta (suspension) Daniel Nicholson (jaw) Stef Martin (foot) GOLD COAST SUNS Backs Taylor Hine Charlie Dixon Trent McKenzie Half backs Daniel Stanley Matthew Warnock Jarrod Harbrow Centreline David Swallow Gary Ablett Michael Rischitelli Half forwards Jared Brennan Tom Lynch Brandon Matera Forwards Luke Russell Sam Day Campbell Brown Followers Zac Smith Karmichael Hunt Harley Bennell Interchange Josh Caddy Liam Patrick Dion Prestia Matt Shaw Emergencies Aaron Hall Steven May Maverick Weller In Sam Day Michael Rischitelli Out Steven May Maverick Weller There must be a clever linguist out there somewhere who is capable of coming up with a word that means the opposite to "blockbuster", because such a word word be perfect to describe this game. Until recently, I would have regarded a Melbourne home game against the Gold Coast Suns as unlosable but I'm not so sure any more. With the club under attack in the media and the tanking debate swirling around it, I'm not all that certain about how the players will react to what I can only consider to be the destabilising atmosphere that has surrounded them throughout the week. After all, it's not often that you have a situation where a former player and former president are out there publicly whacking your club across the head and the media heavies are baying for your blood on a daily basis. It also doesn't help if, on top of these worries, you have a substantial injury list that severely restricts your capacity to pick a team that can win games. On my reckoning, no more than 30 players from the combined Melbourne senior and rookie list of 46 will be in action at the weekend. By way of contrast, North Melbourne will have close to its full list playing in three teams (the Roos are aligned to two VFL clubs and had 12 players representing Werribee alone in the final of the Foxtel Cup on Thursday night). Nevertheless, there are many commentators, either oblivious to thus situation or simply chosing to ignore it, who are maintaining that the Demons will come under more tanking scrutiny if they lose this match. Go figure? Being from the old school, I like to analyse games line by line and, pardon the pun, but I've come up with a result that is going to be very much a line ball. A great deal has been made of Melbourne's much maligned midfield but paradoxically, this is likely to be where the Dees can draw great strength. They might not have the sheer brilliance of Gary Ablett Junior or the youth, pace and ability to spread of their Gold Coast counterparts but they do have size, strength, experience and home ground advantage going for them. Nathan Jones has been a revelation all year and should not be underrated even in the company of the AFL's best player. He proved that last week with his 32 disposals 10 clearances playing to a losing ruck. His partner in crime, Brent Moloney was not far behind him in the disposal count with 29 on return from a brief stint in the VFL. Let there be no doubt, Beamer is playing for his football life along with one or two others like Cale Morton and Jordan Gysberts who are back in the side this week. Jordie McKenzie will probably have the toughest task of the lot after a down week against the Roos but he's taken some scalps this year and, as a kid from down Geelong way, he should rise to the challenge of taking on the former local hero. So this game might well be the antithesis of a blockbuster but I think it will be close and that the Demons will rise to the occasion, put their critics in their rightful place and make themselves relevant once again. Melbourne by 2 points.
  16. IRRELEVANT by Clyde The (former) Clifton Hill Cabbie I don't know if anybody out there remembers me. In my time as one of this great city's leading cab drivers I was well known by all and sundry who used my services to convey them around town for my opinions on politics, religion, sport and a variety of other subjects. I always believed I had a deep knowledge and understanding about our nation's number one sport until one day, this young bloke turned his attention away from his iphone, sat up in the back seat of my taxi cab, angrily snubbed his nose up against the perspex window that divided us and told me to STFU. To him, my opinions on the football were "irrelevant". How dare he? I was a keen student of the game and I got a lot of my inside information from listening to talk back radio and reading the sports pages of the little newspaper which was full of stories written by people who had contacts inside the various league clubs. Surely, the sources of my information were impeccable? Later, after thinking about it a little more, I realised that time was indeed passing me by in this new world of digital electronics and whiz bang gadgets. Perhaps, I was becoming irrelevant? I'm in retirement now. I live in this nice nursing home and although I occasionally get to watch a game on TV, I usually manage to fall asleep even before the result's done and dusted (which these days means by half time). I hardly ever get to read the newspapers because the print's too small and the eyesight's failing and most of the people here knit or play lawn bowls so I don't really know much about what's going on in the AFL any more. I suppose that's what makes me feel even less relevant than ever before. However, I always look forward to that once a year day when one of the good people at Demonland visits me and asks me to write a preview of a Melbourne game for the site. This year's visitor was my old friend The Oracle but he delivered what I regarded at first as the supreme insult when he asked if I would write about the Demons' forthcoming encounter with the Gold Coast Suns. I thought for a while and asked, "who in blazes are the Gold Coast Suns?". He replied that they were one of the new franchises that joined the competition last year. "You mean like Hungry Jacks or Dominoes Pizza?" "No, they're an AFL team that plays at Carrara. Gary Ablett Junior's their captain." "Ablett? Well, that's okay then. Brock'll fix him up." Brock was one of my favourites. The Oracle's next revelation hit me right between the eyes. He told of Brock's defection from Melbourne at the end of 2009 because of a problem he had with the club's "experimentation" that went against the grain of everything he'd ever been taught. So he decided to leave and head to a club whose traditions were seeped in integrity and honesty. I was incredulous as The Oracle explained the events of the week in great detail. There was one thing that puzzled me but no sooner had the words leapt out of my mouth that I realised that my question was totally irrelevant. "You would think with three experienced journalists and commentators doing the interview, one of them would have asked him why a man who held such lofty principles could have possibly gone straight to a club whose reputation not only for tanking but for generally rorting the system was legendary?" It was at this point that all those years of spouting conspiracy theories gripped me and in a moment of inspiration, I understood what this was all about and it had very little to do with the practice of tanking. The whole thing was a set up. The puppeteers were pulling the strings to perfection. The kid who not long ago publicly claimed he contracted aids from somebody's mother had left what passed for his brain in the studio's green room. They knew from the start that he would take the bait and it played itself out perfectly for them. The agenda and the people behind it soon became apparent. As I put this proposition to my visitor, I suddenly felt that I was becoming relevant again. He was almost out of the door when I noticed he had left me with several copies of the sporting sections of the week's newspapers to help with the research for my story. All that was left for me to do was to wade through the rubbish and sift through half a dozen beat ups and testimonies from former players and officials and then I could write my match preview. That was the easy part. The clash between 16th and 17th is a game in which every aspect of team selection and every move that the coaches make is likely to come under scrutiny for all the wrong reasons by suspicious journalists and others struggling to make a sensational story out of nothing. But the game itself is totally irrelevant. THE GAME Melbourne v Gold Coast at the MCG Sunday 5 August 2011 at 1.10pm. HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 2 wins Gold Coast 0 wins MCG Melbourne 1 win Gold Coast 0 wins Since 2000 Melbourne 2 wins Gold Coast 0 wins The Coaches Neeld 0 wins McKenna 0 wins MEDIA TV – Fox Footy Channel at 1:00pm (live) Radio –SEN ABC774 THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 17.10.112 defeated Gold Coast Suns 12.10.82 in round 23, 2011 at the MCG. Oh my god. This was a game so tedious and boring that I was driven to the bar not long after the start of the second quarter. By the time I returned to watch the action fortified by an unknown volume of the amber liquid Melbourne was on its way to a five goal victory. THE BETTING Melbourne $1.57 to win Gold Coast $5.50 to win THE TEAMS MELBOURNE Backs Joel Macdonald James Sellar Tom McDonald Half backs Jack Grimes James Frawley Colin Garland Centreline Jordie McKenzie Jack Trengove Rohan Bail Half forwards Sam Blease Jared Rivers Lynden Dunn Forwards Jeremy Howe Colin Sylvia Brad Green Followers Jake Spencer Brent Moloney Nathan Jones Interchange Jordan Gysberts Cale Morton James Strauss Luke Tapscott Emergencies Jack Fitzpatrick James Magner Josh Tynan In Jordan Gysberts Cale Morton Luke Tapscott Out Neville Jetta (suspension) Daniel Nicholson (jaw) Stef Martin (foot) GOLD COAST SUNS Backs Taylor Hine Charlie Dixon Trent McKenzie Half backs Daniel Stanley Matthew Warnock Jarrod Harbrow Centreline David Swallow Gary Ablett Michael Rischitelli Half forwards Jared Brennan Tom Lynch Brandon Matera Forwards Luke Russell Sam Day Campbell Brown Followers Zac Smith Karmichael Hunt Harley Bennell Interchange Josh Caddy Liam Patrick Dion Prestia Matt Shaw Emergencies Aaron Hall Steven May Maverick Weller In Sam Day Michael Rischitelli Out Steven May Maverick Weller There must be a clever linguist out there somewhere who is capable of coming up with a word that means the opposite to "blockbuster", because such a word word be perfect to describe this game. Until recently, I would have regarded a Melbourne home game against the Gold Coast Suns as unlosable but I'm not so sure any more. With the club under attack in the media and the tanking debate swirling around it, I'm not all that certain about how the players will react to what I can only consider to be the destabilising atmosphere that has surrounded them throughout the week. After all, it's not often that you have a situation where a former player and former president are out there publicly whacking your club across the head and the media heavies are baying for your blood on a daily basis. It also doesn't help if, on top of these worries, you have a substantial injury list that severely restricts your capacity to pick a team that can win games. On my reckoning, no more than 30 players from the combined Melbourne senior and rookie list of 46 will be in action at the weekend. By way of contrast, North Melbourne will have close to its full list playing in three teams (the Roos are aligned to two VFL clubs and had 12 players representing Werribee alone in the final of the Foxtel Cup on Thursday night). Nevertheless, there are many commentators, either oblivious to thus situation or simply chosing to ignore it, who are maintaining that the Demons will come under more tanking scrutiny if they lose this match. Go figure? Being from the old school, I like to analyse games line by line and, pardon the pun, but I've come up with a result that is going to be very much a line ball. A great deal has been made of Melbourne's much maligned midfield but paradoxically, this is likely to be where the Dees can draw great strength. They might not have the sheer brilliance of Gary Ablett Junior or the youth, pace and ability to spread of their Gold Coast counterparts but they do have size, strength, experience and home ground advantage going for them. Nathan Jones has been a revelation all year and should not be underrated even in the company of the AFL's best player. He proved that last week with his 32 disposals 10 clearances playing to a losing ruck. His partner in crime, Brent Moloney was not far behind him in the disposal count with 29 on return from a brief stint in the VFL. Let there be no doubt, Beamer is playing for his football life along with one or two others like Cale Morton and Jordan Gysberts who are back in the side this week. Jordie McKenzie will probably have the toughest task of the lot after a down week against the Roos but he's taken some scalps this year and, as a kid from down Geelong way, he should rise to the challenge of taking on the former local hero. So this game might well be the antithesis of a blockbuster but I think it will be close and that the Demons will rise to the occasion, put their critics in their rightful place and make themselves relevant once again. Melbourne by 2 points.
  17. THE WOOD by The Oracle There's a term in sport that applies when one participant always seems to come out on top of another. It's called "having the wood on your opponent" and I can add without fear or trepidation that the saying definitely applies to North Melbourne's recent record against Melbourne. On Saturday afternoon the Kangaroos will be aiming to make it ten wins in a row against the Demons. They will be assisted by the fact that the game is being held on their home territory at Etihad Stadium where they hold a winning record of 5-0 at a place where Melbourne has lost its last thirteen encounters against all comers. On that basis, you would have to say that they not only have the wood on their opponents but they have the entire bloody forest over them! When Melbourne last won a contest between these clubs (in 2006), David Neitz was still at his peak and the big feller monstered the Kangaroo defence. Nathan Jones' career was in its infancy and Neale Daniher was still safely ensconced in the coach's chair with his side on its way to taking the mantle of the AFL's leading Victorian club (that was the year when the semi finals were contested by four non Victorians). But it's not only a poor record in its recent games against this week's opponent that's dogging the Demons - it's also the current form of the respective clubs that is in steep contrast. Since North Melbourne's big defeat at the hands of Hawthorn early last month, the club has undergone a massive revival in its form with a narrow loss to the West Coast Eagles the only blemish. This has lifted the club from a position of crisis with the president under attack, the CEO handing in his resignation and rumblings of a major power struggle to a situation where the team now sits in the top eight and is looking forward to September. Meanwhile, September is the only thing Melbourne is looking forward to as well but only to the sound of the final siren at Paterson's Stadium on the first or second day of the month to sound the end of yet another season of disasters, distractions and injuries. For most involved with the club, that sound simply cannot come soon enough. The main distraction for the club this week has been the committal hearing in Alice Springs for Liam Jurrah. I can't comment on the outcome but for heaven's sake, on what I've read of the evidence given by the few prosecution witnesses who bothered to turn up, the mind boggles. The law is an ass and even our legal system is conspiring against our club in this rubbish season. Little wonder that we want it to end so soon. Another major contrast between the two protagonists this week is their injury lists. With Hamish McIntosh on the road to recovery (McIntosh to make VFL comeback for 'Roos) and likely to play in the VFL and two others big chances of passing their respective fitness tests, the Kangaroos' only missing player will be first year player Tom Curran. On the other hand, the Demon's have failed their health check very badly in recent times. Clint Bartram (knee), Jamie Bennell (knee), Mitch Clark (foot), Aaron Davey (foot) and Max Gawn (knee) are all out for the season while youngster Rory Taggert (back) is out indefinitely. Jurrah injured his ankle eleven weeks ago and is still supposed to be two weeks away from playing. On top of that a number of players including Jack Watts and Jordie McKenzie face fitness tests and then we have the mystery injury of the week factor which regularly sees players missing games after not even appearing on the club's official injury lists. As the health check article states, "n October 2011, Melbourne could not have imagined it would have virtually no Jurrah, little Davey and no Sylvia early. When it lost its shining light, new recruit Clark after round 12, the disastrous picture was complete." That's where we stand at the moment with Brad Scott and his twenty-two merry men holding a very large block of wood over Mark Neeld's head as he and his medical team work furiously to heal the wounded. THE GAME North Melbourne v Melbourne on Saturday 28th July 2012 at Etihad Stadium at 2.10 pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall North Melbourne 68 wins Melbourne 83 wins 1 draw At Etihad Stadium North Melbourne 5 wins Melbourne 0 wins Since 2000 North Melbourne 12 wins Melbourne 7 wins The Coaches Scott 0 wins Neeld 0 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Sports Channel at 2:00pm (live) RADIO - SEN 3AW THE BETTING North Melbourne to win $1.09 Melbourne to win $7.50 LAST TIME THEY MET North Melbourne 19.10.124 defeated Melbourne 12.11.83 at Etihad Stadium in Round 8, 2012 The Demons were coming off a massive win at the G against Adelaide and started like a house on fire scoring six of the first goals to lead by 31 points in time on of the first term. Then, as often happened with this team, the wheels inexplicably fell off. Every possible calamity befell the team from injuries, loose play, poor execution of skills, bad bounces and even worse umpiring decisions including a "dive" that was paid to Brent Harvey that would have done Greg Louganis proud at the 84 Summer Olympics. MILESTONE Congratulations to Brad Green who plays his 250th game. The 2010 best and fairest and former skipper will join David Neitz (306 matches), Robert Flower (272), Adem Yze (271), Jim Stynes (264), Steven Febey (258), Brian Dixon (252) and James McDonald (251) as the only other Demons to play 250 games. THE TEAMS NORTH MELBOURNE Backs Scott McMahon Scott Thompson Michael Firrito Half backs Shaun Atley Nathan Grima Jamie Macmillan Centreline Ryan Bastinac Daniel Wells Ben Cunnington Half forwards Leigh Adams Robert Tarrant Samuel Wright Forwards Lachlan Hansen Drew Petrie Lindsay Thomas Followers Todd Goldstein Andrew Swallow Brent Harvey Interchange Liam Anthony Matt Campbell Sam Gibson Kieran Harper Emergencies Cruize Garlett Aaron Mullett Cameron Richardson No change MELBOURNE Backs Daniel Nicholson James Sellar Tom McDonald Half backs Joel Macdonald James Frawley Colin Garland Centreline Rohan Bail Jack Grimes Jack Trengove Half forwards Colin Sylvia Stef Martin Lynden Dunn Forwards Neville Jetta Jared Rivers Brad Green Followers Jake Spencer Jordie McKenzie Nathan Jones Interchange Sam Blease Jeremy Howe Brent Moloney James Strauss Emergencies Matthew Bate Jordan Gysberts James Magner In Jordie McKenzie Brent Moloney James Sellar Out Tom Couch James Magner Ricky Petterd THE DECK CHAIRS One thing that puzzles me about Melbourne's team selection as the club meanders its way to a shameful end to an awful season is the reluctance of selectors to go all out with youth. The catch cry in football when all is lost and the season is prematurely over is usually one of "going for youth". Alternatively, you go for youth when your list is decimated by injury or suspension as was the case last week when Carlton selected three first gamers to play the Western Bulldogs. From all reports the trio, two of them plucked out of the Northern Blues reserves from a week earlier, all acquitted themselves well in Carlton's win. Melbourne, on the other hand, with an injury list that matches Carlton's appears reluctant to make bold selection moves and instead, has decided this week to move the deck chairs around. The result is that, apart from the compulsory return of Jordie McKenzie, two players in Brent Moloney and James Sellar (both available for selection last week) come into the side. I have nothing against either player but, given that Casey had a bye last week and neither of them played anywhere, what did they do to justify inclusion this week but not last? It makes no sense unless you're determined to simply move the deckchairs around and go through the motions. The problem is that in this game we have one team, sick, unhealthy, out of form and rudderless, going through the motions waiting for the season to end and another determined to cement its place in the real September action. The Roos need to win games and bolster their percentage and this hardly bodes well for the Demons. North Melbourne is in a position where a number of its stars are shining at the moment. Todd Goldstein should dominate the big men duels in the absence of Mark Jamar in the opposing ruck. I doubt that his replacement, Jake Spencer will have happy memories of a previous encounter with North at Etihad when he produced what looked like an air shot at goal that dribbled desultorily off the side and bottom of his boot. The Kangaroos have key forward Drew Petrie in career-best goal kicking form with seven in each of their past two games against Carlton and Richmond. He'll be a handfull for the Demon defenders, one of who will be grateful that the coach persists in experimenting with the idea of playing a backman up forward. Then there are Daniel Wells. Andrew Swallow and evergreen Brent Harvey who will run and spread all day creating havoc among Melbourne's pedestrian midfield. The end result will not look pretty as the Kangaroos take full advantage of that enormous piece of wood they have over the Demons. North Melbourne by 75 points.
  18. THE WOOD by The Oracle There's a term in sport that applies when one participant always seems to come out on top of another. It's called "having the wood on your opponent" and I can add without fear or trepidation that the saying definitely applies to North Melbourne's recent record against Melbourne. On Saturday afternoon the Kangaroos will be aiming to make it ten wins in a row against the Demons. They will be assisted by the fact that the game is being held on their home territory at Etihad Stadium where they hold a winning record of 5-0 at a place where Melbourne has lost its last thirteen encounters against all comers. On that basis, you would have to say that they not only have the wood on their opponents but they have the entire bloody forest over them! When Melbourne last won a contest between these clubs (in 2006), David Neitz was still at his peak and the big feller monstered the Kangaroo defence. Nathan Jones' career was in its infancy and Neale Daniher was still safely ensconced in the coach's chair with his side on its way to taking the mantle of the AFL's leading Victorian club (that was the year when the semi finals were contested by four non Victorians). But it's not only a poor record in its recent games against this week's opponent that's dogging the Demons - it's also the current form of the respective clubs that is in steep contrast. Since North Melbourne's big defeat at the hands of Hawthorn early last month, the club has undergone a massive revival in its form with a narrow loss to the West Coast Eagles the only blemish. This has lifted the club from a position of crisis with the president under attack, the CEO handing in his resignation and rumblings of a major power struggle to a situation where the team now sits in the top eight and is looking forward to September. Meanwhile, September is the only thing Melbourne is looking forward to as well but only to the sound of the final siren at Paterson's Stadium on the first or second day of the month to sound the end of yet another season of disasters, distractions and injuries. For most involved with the club, that sound simply cannot come soon enough. The main distraction for the club this week has been the committal hearing in Alice Springs for Liam Jurrah. I can't comment on the outcome but for heaven's sake, on what I've read of the evidence given by the few prosecution witnesses who bothered to turn up, the mind boggles. The law is an ass and even our legal system is conspiring against our club in this rubbish season. Little wonder that we want it to end so soon. Another major contrast between the two protagonists this week is their injury lists. With Hamish McIntosh on the road to recovery (McIntosh to make VFL comeback for 'Roos) and likely to play in the VFL and two others big chances of passing their respective fitness tests, the Kangaroos' only missing player will be first year player Tom Curran. On the other hand, the Demon’s have failed their health check very badly in recent times. Clint Bartram (knee), Jamie Bennell (knee), Mitch Clark (foot), Aaron Davey (foot) and Max Gawn (knee) are all out for the season while youngster Rory Taggert (back) is out indefinitely. Jurrah injured his ankle eleven weeks ago and is still supposed to be two weeks away from playing. On top of that a number of players including Jack Watts and Jordie McKenzie face fitness tests and then we have the mystery injury of the week factor which regularly sees players missing games after not even appearing on the club’s official injury lists. As the health check article states, “n October 2011, Melbourne could not have imagined it would have virtually no Jurrah, little Davey and no Sylvia early. When it lost its shining light, new recruit Clark after round 12, the disastrous picture was complete.” That’s where we stand at the moment with Brad Scott and his twenty-two merry men holding a very large block of wood over Mark Neeld’s head as he and his medical team work furiously to heal the wounded. THE GAME North Melbourne v Melbourne on Saturday 28th July 2012 at Etihad Stadium at 2.10 pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall North Melbourne 68 wins Melbourne 83 wins 1 draw At Etihad Stadium North Melbourne 5 wins Melbourne 0 wins Since 2000 North Melbourne 12 wins Melbourne 7 wins The Coaches Scott 0 wins Neeld 0 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Sports Channel at 2:00pm (live) RADIO - SEN 3AW THE BETTING North Melbourne to win $1.09 Melbourne to win $7.50 LAST TIME THEY MET North Melbourne 19.10.124 defeated Melbourne 12.11.83 at Etihad Stadium in Round 8, 2012 The Demons were coming off a massive win at the G against Adelaide and started like a house on fire scoring six of the first goals to lead by 31 points in time on of the first term. Then, as often happened with this team, the wheels inexplicably fell off. Every possible calamity befell the team from injuries, loose play, poor execution of skills, bad bounces and even worse umpiring decisions including a "dive" that was paid to Brent Harvey that would have done Greg Louganis proud at the 84 Summer Olympics. MILESTONE Congratulations to Brad Green who plays his 250th game. The 2010 best and fairest and former skipper will join David Neitz (306 matches), Robert Flower (272), Adem Yze (271), Jim Stynes (264), Steven Febey (258), Brian Dixon (252) and James McDonald (251) as the only other Demons to play 250 games. THE TEAMS NORTH MELBOURNE Backs Scott McMahon Scott Thompson Michael Firrito Half backs Shaun Atley Nathan Grima Jamie Macmillan Centreline Ryan Bastinac Daniel Wells Ben Cunnington Half forwards Leigh Adams Robert Tarrant Samuel Wright Forwards Lachlan Hansen Drew Petrie Lindsay Thomas Followers Todd Goldstein Andrew Swallow Brent Harvey Interchange Liam Anthony Matt Campbell Sam Gibson Kieran Harper Emergencies Cruize Garlett Aaron Mullett Cameron Richardson No change MELBOURNE Backs Daniel Nicholson James Sellar Tom McDonald Half backs Joel Macdonald James Frawley Colin Garland Centreline Rohan Bail Jack Grimes Jack Trengove Half forwards Colin Sylvia Stef Martin Lynden Dunn Forwards Neville Jetta Jared Rivers Brad Green Followers Jake Spencer Jordie McKenzie Nathan Jones Interchange Sam Blease Jeremy Howe Brent Moloney James Strauss Emergencies Matthew Bate Jordan Gysberts James Magner In Jordie McKenzie Brent Moloney James Sellar Out Tom Couch James Magner Ricky Petterd THE DECK CHAIRS One thing that puzzles me about Melbourne's team selection as the club meanders its way to a shameful end to an awful season is the reluctance of selectors to go all out with youth. The catch cry in football when all is lost and the season is prematurely over is usually one of "going for youth". Alternatively, you go for youth when your list is decimated by injury or suspension as was the case last week when Carlton selected three first gamers to play the Western Bulldogs. From all reports the trio, two of them plucked out of the Northern Blues reserves from a week earlier, all acquitted themselves well in Carlton's win. Melbourne, on the other hand, with an injury list that matches Carlton's appears reluctant to make bold selection moves and instead, has decided this week to move the deck chairs around. The result is that, apart from the compulsory return of Jordie McKenzie, two players in Brent Moloney and James Sellar (both available for selection last week) come into the side. I have nothing against either player but, given that Casey had a bye last week and neither of them played anywhere, what did they do to justify inclusion this week but not last? It makes no sense unless you're determined to simply move the deckchairs around and go through the motions. The problem is that in this game we have one team, sick, unhealthy, out of form and rudderless, going through the motions waiting for the season to end and another determined to cement its place in the real September action. The Roos need to win games and bolster their percentage and this hardly bodes well for the Demons. North Melbourne is in a position where a number of its stars are shining at the moment. Todd Goldstein should dominate the big men duels in the absence of Mark Jamar in the opposing ruck. I doubt that his replacement, Jake Spencer will have happy memories of a previous encounter with North at Etihad when he produced what looked like an air shot at goal that dribbled desultorily off the side and bottom of his boot. The Kangaroos have key forward Drew Petrie in career-best goal kicking form with seven in each of their past two games against Carlton and Richmond. He'll be a handfull for the Demon defenders, one of who will be grateful that the coach persists in experimenting with the idea of playing a backman up forward. Then there are Daniel Wells. Andrew Swallow and evergreen Brent Harvey who will run and spread all day creating havoc among Melbourne's pedestrian midfield. The end result will not look pretty as the Kangaroos take full advantage of that enormous piece of wood they have over the Demons. North Melbourne by 75 points.
  19. THE CURSE by Whispering Jack Exactly twelve months have passed since Melbourne travelled to the Top End where it took on Port Adelaide and delivered Dean Bailey his last win as an AFL senior coach. The team laboured hard in Darwin's heat and humidity and was always going to finish in front of the Power whose season had been horrible to that point and was only going to get worse. For Melbourne, the four premiership points for the win gave it 9th position on the ladder and a definite chance to participate in the AFL finals series for the first time since 2006. The Demons were facing a tough month but there were three relatively easy games waiting at the end of the run home and a game in hand over its rivals for a finals berth who all had equally difficult tasks ahead of them. We all know the outcome of the story of how a club imploded; the way in which it fell to pieces, the on and off field convulsions, the crisis of confidence of the players, the thrashings, the injuries, the falling away of form and the fact that in the interim, the coach left in harsh circumstances, the club's young number 1 draft hopeful walked out chasing the almighty dollar, the demise of a major sponsorship, the president sadly passed away and the team managed only three wins over the past twelve months, two of them to the new franchises. The trip north for a game at Darwin's picturesque TIO Stadium is meant to serve a number of purposes, the main one being to bolster the club's finances. It is also designed to create a link between the Melbourne Football Club and the community of the Northern Territory and in particular the indigenous community which has produced so many excellent players in recent years. In light of the aftermath of that trip north, one might be forgiven for believing that somehow and for some unknown reason on that steamy night, a curse was visited on the Demons and their indigenous heroes. Melbourne returned home to a game against Hawthorn and, with Liam Jurrah and Tom Scully missing through illness and injury, a tired team was easily overpowered and beaten. Six days on and the team was decimated by Geelong as it suffered the second largest defeat in the game's history. Another day later and the coach was gone. The club's indigenous players have all fared badly over the past twelve months. Austin Wonaeamirri was still mourning the untimely deaths of his father Matthew and his close relative Maurice Rioli and missed the Darwin game. He returned to the club and suffered a bad injury to his ankle on comeback at Casey. It effectively ended his career and he was delisted at the end of the year. Jurrah was injured late in the season, breaking a wrist in a fall after taking a trademark hanger in the team's win over Gold Coast. The surgery to repair the wrist was unsuccessful, it required more work and while in rehabilitation, he travelled home to Yuendumu. The result of that visit has been well documented and will play itself out in the NT court system. Jurrah finally returned from injury but in his comeback game against Sydney, a game lost by in excess of 100 points, he injured an ankle and has not played a game since. Aaron Davey was also recuperating from a knee injury when the team went to Darwin last year. He returned to the side some weeks later but was out of form and frustrated. He was reported for an uncharacteristic infraction against Richmond, missed the final two games and has had a torrid time with injury and form ever since. He was at the centre of the Jason Mifsud racism controversy earlier this year and many felt that the incident had touched his soul badly. Less than a fortnight ago, his season ended with the discovery of stress fractures in a foot. Neville Jetta was on the comeback trail from shoulder surgery a year ago but it was discovered that the operation had failed and the result was more surgery and a major interruption to his pre season. Then, in a practice game at Casey, he twisted an ankle badly and he has only recently started playing again in the VFL. On Saturday night, he returns to the Melbourne side for his first game since late last season. Jetta's mate Jaimie Bennell has just gone through an indifferent season drifting between Melbourne and Casey before he too succumbed to one of the game's toughest injuries last weekend and he underwent knee surgery on an ACL yesterday. Rookie Kelvin Lawrence who has struggled at Casey and last played in the Scorpions' reserves is also out at the moment with a calf injury as he fights for his future on the club's lists. I should point out that it's not only the club's indigenous players who make up Melbourne's large injury list and, of course, there's no scientific basis for believing in curses. This week, veteran broadcaster Tony Charlton joked with compere Mike Sheahan on his programme about another alleged curse which some believe afflicts the club - the Norm Smith curse. Charlton believes that talk of such curses is nothing more than sheer nonsense. There probably is a logical reason for everything bad that's happened to the Melbourne Football Club over the years since it last tasted premiership glory. The same can be said of the events of the past twelve months. The likelihood is that they are related to a number of complex matters such as those which the club and its coaches are impressing on supporters at those briefings that are happening at the moment. So there probably is no Top End curse and all of those bad things are coincidental. But just in case, I'll be scouring the television screen on Saturday night before the game hoping to catch a glimpse of somebody in the crowd making all of the appropriate gestures necessary to lift the cursed spell - because enough is enough! THE GAME Melbourne v Port Adelaide Saturday 21 July, 2012 at the TIO Stadium, Darwin, 7:40pm AEST HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 11 wins Port Adelaide 13 wins At TIO Stadium Melbourne 2 wins Port Adelaide 0 wins Since 2000 Melbourne 8 wins Port Adelaide 11 wins The Coaches Neeld 0 wins Primus 0 wins MEDIA TV – Fox Footy Channel (Live) at 7:30pm Radio – SEN ABC774 THE BETTING Melbourne to win $2.30 Port Adelaide to win $1.60 THE LAST TIME THEY MET Port Adelaide 17.10.112 defeated Melbourne 15.14.104 at Adelaide Oval, Round 24, 2011. This was the first ever game at the beautiful Adelaide Oval which is being redeveloped for more football and, in the AFL's endless drive for dollars, it will no doubt soon become a concrete amphitheatre rivalling Metricon and Skoda Stadiums for sheer ugliness. If you wanted proof of the curse then this game was it. Even if it was depleted by injury, Melbourne should have won the game easily but some mysterious umpiring decisions kept Port in the game all day and mysteriously in front by eight points at the end of the game. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE Backs Daniel Nicholson James Frawley Colin Garland Half backs Joel Macdonald Tom McDonald Jack Grimes Centreline Rohan Bail Colin Sylvia Sam Blease Half forwards Ricky Petterd Stefan Martin Jeremy Howe Forwards James Magner Jared Rivers Brad Green Followers Jake Spencer Jack Trengove Nathan Jones Interchange Thomas Couch Lynden Dunn Neville Jetta James Strauss Emergencies Matthew Bate Jordan Gysberts James Sellar In Lynden Dunn Neville Jetta James Magner Jake Spencer Out Matthew Bate (omitted) Jamie Bennell (knee) Jordie McKenzie (groin) Mark Jamar (calf) PORT ADELAIDE Backs Jackson Trengove Alipate Carlile Paul Stewart Half backs Tom Logan Troy Chaplin Domenic Cassisi Centreline Matthew Broadbent Travis Boak Kane Cornes Half forwards Andrew Moore Justin Westhoff Danyle Pearce Forwards John McCarthy Daniel Stewart Brett Ebert Followers Matthew Lobbe Bradley Ebert Matt Thomas Interchange Thomas Jonas Jasper Pittard Chad Wingard Aaron Young Emergencies Darren Pfeiffer Brent Renouf David Rodan In Domenic Cassisi Jasper Pittard Out Darren Pfeiffer Jarrad Redden BEATING THE CURSE I've been reading an article about how Melbourne's performance since its shock win in round 10 against the Bombers has progressively gotten worse in several key areas - Falling down. The writer in question notes that since the Demons beat Greater Western Sydney in round 13, the defence has collapsed, with Melbourne now the third easiest side to score against in the competition (surprisingly, it's also currently third last), while its average disposal differential and uncontested possession differential have both slipped drastically in the same period. To gain an understanding of the reason for the sharp decline in these statistics, Demon legend Garry Lyon was consulted. He was at a loss to come up with an explanation but opined:- ''They are having 30 minutes of footy when they don't appear to be in the contest at all. Why is that? There is no excuse for it. It's certainly something they need to sort out. ''Their skill execution has been something that has been really disappointing. The fundamental footy has been disappointing, but it hasn't been for want of trying. They were pretty competitive against Collingwood, after Collingwood kicked the first eight goals. Against Freo, they were 20 points up with five minutes to go in [the] third quarter. ''They have been competitive for periods of the game, but when they are uncompetitive they are getting monstered.'' Lyon did admit in the end that the fall away against the Dockers could have something to do with the fact that ruckman Mark Jamar hobbled from the field with an injured calf and Jamie Bennell ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament but it all remained a mystery. I suppose injury played its part. With your All Australian ruckman out of the game after five minutes and your ability to rotate in a tight game seriously impaired, it might explain why a team full of young players, a few coming back from long term injury might tire badly. That the writer also failed to examine the rest of the club's injury list and the extensive number of players from its best 22 also out missing was probably an oversight. He also carried out no analysis of the changes in those KPI statistics over a longer period, say the past twelve months. Specifically, since the Demons last made the trip up to the tropics and Darwin. This brings me to Saturday night's Top End clash against Port Adelaide which would, in a round billed as one of closely matched and exciting contests, stand out like a sore thumb if it weren't for the fact that the Dockers await the Giants in Perth for what will most likely be a right royal execution. I'm actually surprised that a journalist wasn't dispatched during the week to check out Port Adelaide's statistics for heroic acts in football of late. After all, it was well in the game against Essendon at half time last week and lost by 50 points. The week before it was crushed by Adelaide in the latest version of the Showdown. No signs of any alarm there? Right, then I might have to tip them to beat Melbourne. If there was any logic in this football caper I think I would be safe in relying on the teams' respective performances against Essendon who Melbourne beat by 5 points - a much better result than Port's capitulation. The Demons might have undergone a sharp decline in recent KPI's but I would prefer to deal in cold, hard facts and I know for a fact that the team that was selected to travel north this week is dedicated to removing the Top End curse placed on it exactly twelve months ago when they last travelled to the Territory. Ending the curse will depend primarily on who controls the midfield and in this respect, I think the Demons will surprise despite the fact that they decided to leave out Brent Moloney who polled maximum Brownlow votes on both occasions when these teams met in 2011. I look at Melbourne's rucks in Jake Spencer and Stef Martin and I am automatically filled with confidence about their capacity to overcome Matthew Lobbe and whoever else the Power are going to use in the ruck in this game (you can tell I don't know much about the opposition). Spencer killed them last week in the VFL while Martin stepped into the breach quite nicely when Jamar had to pull up stumps early against the Dockers. There's been a lot spoken and written about Travis Boak recently but quite frankly, I think he's under pressure and too distracted to perform against Nathan Jones who is one of the most improved midfield performers in the competition this year. He would surely have far more recognition if not for Melbourne's plight this year and the fact that the journos and commentators persist in going on wild goose chases searching for reasons why a young club, with a large injury list isn't travelling so well at the moment. In any event, I'm backing Jones, Colin Sylvia, Jack Trengove, Rohan Bail and first year hard nuts James Magner and Tom Couch to more than match Port Adelaide's on ball division to give their team the winning edge in this game. I'm also delighted that Neville Jetta is finally back and playing after an horrific run with injuries over the past twelve months. Although, one can't expect too much given that he had a truncated pre season and several months on the sidelines, he has shown previously that he loves this ground and can carry the responsibility that goes with being the only one of Melbourne's wonderful indigenous players left standing at the moment. I have this vision of Nev swooping on the ball, running into goal and kicking the matchwinner to put the Top End curse to rest for once and for all. I'm therefore tipping Melbourne to win by a point.
  20. THE CURSE by Whispering Jack Exactly twelve months have passed since Melbourne travelled to the Top End where it took on Port Adelaide and delivered Dean Bailey his last win as an AFL senior coach. The team laboured hard in Darwin's heat and humidity and was always going to finish in front of the Power whose season had been horrible to that point and was only going to get worse. For Melbourne, the four premiership points for the win gave it 9th position on the ladder and a definite chance to participate in the AFL finals series for the first time since 2006. The Demons were facing a tough month but there were three relatively easy games waiting at the end of the run home and a game in hand over its rivals for a finals berth who all had equally difficult tasks ahead of them. We all know the outcome of the story of how a club imploded; the way in which it fell to pieces, the on and off field convulsions, the crisis of confidence of the players, the thrashings, the injuries, the falling away of form and the fact that in the interim, the coach left in harsh circumstances, the club's young number 1 draft hopeful walked out chasing the almighty dollar, the demise of a major sponsorship, the president sadly passed away and the team managed only three wins over the past twelve months, two of them to the new franchises. The trip north for a game at Darwin's picturesque TIO Stadium is meant to serve a number of purposes, the main one being to bolster the club's finances. It is also designed to create a link between the Melbourne Football Club and the community of the Northern Territory and in particular the indigenous community which has produced so many excellent players in recent years. In light of the aftermath of that trip north, one might be forgiven for believing that somehow and for some unknown reason on that steamy night, a curse was visited on the Demons and their indigenous heroes. Melbourne returned home to a game against Hawthorn and, with Liam Jurrah and Tom Scully missing through illness and injury, a tired team was easily overpowered and beaten. Six days on and the team was decimated by Geelong as it suffered the second largest defeat in the game's history. Another day later and the coach was gone. The club's indigenous players have all fared badly over the past twelve months. Austin Wonaeamirri was still mourning the untimely deaths of his father Matthew and his close relative Maurice Rioli and missed the Darwin game. He returned to the club and suffered a bad injury to his ankle on comeback at Casey. It effectively ended his career and he was delisted at the end of the year. Jurrah was injured late in the season, breaking a wrist in a fall after taking a trademark hanger in the team's win over Gold Coast. The surgery to repair the wrist was unsuccessful, it required more work and while in rehabilitation, he travelled home to Yuendumu. The result of that visit has been well documented and will play itself out in the NT court system. Jurrah finally returned from injury but in his comeback game against Sydney, a game lost by in excess of 100 points, he injured an ankle and has not played a game since. Aaron Davey was also recuperating from a knee injury when the team went to Darwin last year. He returned to the side some weeks later but was out of form and frustrated. He was reported for an uncharacteristic infraction against Richmond, missed the final two games and has had a torrid time with injury and form ever since. He was at the centre of the Jason Mifsud racism controversy earlier this year and many felt that the incident had touched his soul badly. Less than a fortnight ago, his season ended with the discovery of stress fractures in a foot. Neville Jetta was on the comeback trail from shoulder surgery a year ago but it was discovered that the operation had failed and the result was more surgery and a major interruption to his pre season. Then, in a practice game at Casey, he twisted an ankle badly and he has only recently started playing again in the VFL. On Saturday night, he returns to the Melbourne side for his first game since late last season. Jetta's mate Jaimie Bennell has just gone through an indifferent season drifting between Melbourne and Casey before he too succumbed to one of the game's toughest injuries last weekend and he underwent knee surgery on an ACL yesterday. Rookie Kelvin Lawrence who has struggled at Casey and last played in the Scorpions' reserves is also out at the moment with a calf injury as he fights for his future on the club's lists. I should point out that it's not only the club's indigenous players who make up Melbourne's large injury list and, of course, there's no scientific basis for believing in curses. This week, veteran broadcaster Tony Charlton joked with compere Mike Sheahan on his programme about another alleged curse which some believe afflicts the club - the Norm Smith curse. Charlton believes that talk of such curses is nothing more than sheer nonsense. There probably is a logical reason for everything bad that's happened to the Melbourne Football Club over the years since it last tasted premiership glory. The same can be said of the events of the past twelve months. The likelihood is that they are related to a number of complex matters such as those which the club and its coaches are impressing on supporters at those briefings that are happening at the moment. So there probably is no Top End curse and all of those bad things are coincidental. But just in case, I'll be scouring the television screen on Saturday night before the game hoping to catch a glimpse of somebody in the crowd making all of the appropriate gestures necessary to lift the cursed spell - because enough is enough! THE GAME Melbourne v Port Adelaide Saturday 21 July, 2012 at the TIO Stadium, Darwin, 7:40pm AEST HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 11 wins Port Adelaide 13 wins At TIO Stadium Melbourne 2 wins Port Adelaide 0 wins Since 2000 Melbourne 8 wins Port Adelaide 11 wins The Coaches Neeld 0 wins Primus 0 wins MEDIA TV – Fox Footy Channel (Live) at 7:30pm Radio – SEN ABC774 THE BETTING Melbourne to win $2.30 Port Adelaide to win $1.60 THE LAST TIME THEY MET Port Adelaide 17.10.112 defeated Melbourne 15.14.104 at Adelaide Oval, Round 24, 2011. This was the first ever game at the beautiful Adelaide Oval which is being redeveloped for more football and, in the AFL’s endless drive for dollars, it will no doubt soon become a concrete amphitheatre rivalling Metricon and Skoda Stadiums for sheer ugliness. If you wanted proof of the curse then this game was it. Even if it was depleted by injury, Melbourne should have won the game easily but some mysterious umpiring decisions kept Port in the game all day and mysteriously in front by eight points at the end of the game. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE Backs Daniel Nicholson James Frawley Colin Garland Half backs Joel Macdonald Tom McDonald Jack Grimes Centreline Rohan Bail Colin Sylvia Sam Blease Half forwards Ricky Petterd Stefan Martin Jeremy Howe Forwards James Magner Jared Rivers Brad Green Followers Jake Spencer Jack Trengove Nathan Jones Interchange Thomas Couch Lynden Dunn Neville Jetta James Strauss Emergencies Matthew Bate Jordan Gysberts James Sellar In Lynden Dunn Neville Jetta James Magner Jake Spencer Out Matthew Bate (omitted) Jamie Bennell (knee) Jordie McKenzie (groin) Mark Jamar (calf) PORT ADELAIDE Backs Jackson Trengove Alipate Carlile Paul Stewart Half backs Tom Logan Troy Chaplin Domenic Cassisi Centreline Matthew Broadbent Travis Boak Kane Cornes Half forwards Andrew Moore Justin Westhoff Danyle Pearce Forwards John McCarthy Daniel Stewart Brett Ebert Followers Matthew Lobbe Bradley Ebert Matt Thomas Interchange Thomas Jonas Jasper Pittard Chad Wingard Aaron Young Emergencies Darren Pfeiffer Brent Renouf David Rodan In Domenic Cassisi Jasper Pittard Out Darren Pfeiffer Jarrad Redden BEATING THE CURSE I've been reading an article about how Melbourne's performance since its shock win in round 10 against the Bombers has progressively gotten worse in several key areas - Falling down. The writer in question notes that since the Demons beat Greater Western Sydney in round 13, the defence has collapsed, with Melbourne now the third easiest side to score against in the competition (surprisingly, it's also currently third last), while its average disposal differential and uncontested possession differential have both slipped drastically in the same period. To gain an understanding of the reason for the sharp decline in these statistics, Demon legend Garry Lyon was consulted. He was at a loss to come up with an explanation but opined:- ''They are having 30 minutes of footy when they don't appear to be in the contest at all. Why is that? There is no excuse for it. It's certainly something they need to sort out. ''Their skill execution has been something that has been really disappointing. The fundamental footy has been disappointing, but it hasn't been for want of trying. They were pretty competitive against Collingwood, after Collingwood kicked the first eight goals. Against Freo, they were 20 points up with five minutes to go in [the] third quarter. ''They have been competitive for periods of the game, but when they are uncompetitive they are getting monstered.'' Lyon did admit in the end that the fall away against the Dockers could have something to do with the fact that ruckman Mark Jamar hobbled from the field with an injured calf and Jamie Bennell ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament but it all remained a mystery. I suppose injury played its part. With your All Australian ruckman out of the game after five minutes and your ability to rotate in a tight game seriously impaired, it might explain why a team full of young players, a few coming back from long term injury might tire badly. That the writer also failed to examine the rest of the club's injury list and the extensive number of players from its best 22 also out missing was probably an oversight. He also carried out no analysis of the changes in those KPI statistics over a longer period, say the past twelve months. Specifically, since the Demons last made the trip up to the tropics and Darwin. This brings me to Saturday night's Top End clash against Port Adelaide which would, in a round billed as one of closely matched and exciting contests, stand out like a sore thumb if it weren't for the fact that the Dockers await the Giants in Perth for what will most likely be a right royal execution. I'm actually surprised that a journalist wasn't dispatched during the week to check out Port Adelaide's statistics for heroic acts in football of late. After all, it was well in the game against Essendon at half time last week and lost by 50 points. The week before it was crushed by Adelaide in the latest version of the Showdown. No signs of any alarm there? Right, then I might have to tip them to beat Melbourne. If there was any logic in this football caper I think I would be safe in relying on the teams' respective performances against Essendon who Melbourne beat by 5 points - a much better result than Port's capitulation. The Demons might have undergone a sharp decline in recent KPI's but I would prefer to deal in cold, hard facts and I know for a fact that the team that was selected to travel north this week is dedicated to removing the Top End curse placed on it exactly twelve months ago when they last travelled to the Territory. Ending the curse will depend primarily on who controls the midfield and in this respect, I think the Demons will surprise despite the fact that they decided to leave out Brent Moloney who polled maximum Brownlow votes on both occasions when these teams met in 2011. I look at Melbourne's rucks in Jake Spencer and Stef Martin and I am automatically filled with confidence about their capacity to overcome Matthew Lobbe and whoever else the Power are going to use in the ruck in this game (you can tell I don't know much about the opposition). Spencer killed them last week in the VFL while Martin stepped into the breach quite nicely when Jamar had to pull up stumps early against the Dockers. There's been a lot spoken and written about Travis Boak recently but quite frankly, I think he's under pressure and too distracted to perform against Nathan Jones who is one of the most improved midfield performers in the competition this year. He would surely have far more recognition if not for Melbourne's plight this year and the fact that the journos and commentators persist in going on wild goose chases searching for reasons why a young club, with a large injury list isn't travelling so well at the moment. In any event, I'm backing Jones, Colin Sylvia, Jack Trengove, Rohan Bail and first year hard nuts James Magner and Tom Couch to more than match Port Adelaide's on ball division to give their team the winning edge in this game. I'm also delighted that Neville Jetta is finally back and playing after an horrific run with injuries over the past twelve months. Although, one can't expect too much given that he had a truncated pre season and several months on the sidelines, he has shown previously that he loves this ground and can carry the responsibility that goes with being the only one of Melbourne's wonderful indigenous players left standing at the moment. I have this vision of Nev swooping on the ball, running into goal and kicking the matchwinner to put the Top End curse to rest for once and for all. I'm therefore tipping Melbourne to win by a point.
  21. FIFTY SHADES OF PURPLE by Sam the Stats Man Those of us who are experts in the field of statistics are only too aware of the fact that there are numerous shades of purple but for this Saturday's Melbourne home game against Fremantle at Etihad Stadium, I'm not expecting to see many different shades of that colour in the crowd. Nor will there be very many versions of the home club's colours either! The Demons rarely attract large numbers of their supporters for "home" games at Etihad Stadium. In particular, when the fixture is against the highly favoured Dockers and the team is the 16th-placed side ahead only of the new franchises, the numbers simply don't stack up. At around this time last year, a Melbourne team that still had an outside chance of making the finals attracted a mere 15,740 punters to its game at this same venue against an exciting top four combination in the West Coast Eagles and they were duly smashed. The club has won only two of its past 20 games at Etihad and this includes 12 losses in a row by an average of 44 points since 2008. All of this points to the fact that, although Freo have never beaten Melbourne at this ground (they’ve met there twice) there will be plenty of empty seats when play starts unless the club comes up with something to attract the fans to the game. Perhaps, a promise from the Demon camp that the team can come up with a better start than what they have produced of late. Last week against the Tigers, they could come up with one measly scoring shot to ten in the opening term. Even the GWS Giants got off to a flyer in their clash the week before that. The last time the Demons got off to a big start to a game was more that twelve months ago in their last home fixture against the Dockers when they kicked the first five goals on their way to an 89 point win. However, that game was at the MCG against an injury depleted side. This time it's Melbourne that has a large injury list with some key players like goal kicking forwards in Mitch Clark and Liam Jurrah missing, so the prospect of a good start seems unlikely. Therefore, with the Purple Haze still in finals contention, I have no hesitation in coming to this conclusion:- Fremantle by 50 points. THE GAME Melbourne v Fremantle at Etihad Stadium, Saturday July 14, 1:45pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 13 wins Fremantle 14 wins Etihad Stadium Melbourne 2 wins Fremantle 0 wins Since 2000 Melbourne 9 wins Fremantle 10 wins The Coaches Neeld 0 wins Lyon 0 wins MEDIA TV Fox Footy Channel (live) at 1:30pm Channel 7 (delayed) at 3:00pm RADIO SEN Triple M THE BETTING Melbourne $3.00 Fremantle $1.40 THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 22.17.149 defeated Fremantle 8.12.60 Round 13, 2011 at the MCG The team really fired up in this game with skipper Brad Green leading the way kicking five goals in a game where the Demons were rarely troubled and under very little pressure. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE Backs Daniel Nicholson James Frawley Luke Tapscott Half backs Joel Macdonald Tom McDonald Jack Grimes Centreline Jack Trengove Jordie McKenzie Jeremy Howe Half forwards Ricky Petterd Jared Rivers Sam Blease Forwards Colin Sylvia Colin Garland Brad Green Followers Mark Jamar Rohan Bail Nathan Jones Interchange Matthew Bate Jamie Bennell Tom Couch Stef Martin Emergencies James Magner Jake Spencer James Strauss In Tom Couch Brad Green, Mark Jamar Tom McDonald Ricky Petterd Out Lynden Dunn (suspended) James Magner Brent Moloney Jake Spencer Jack Watts (ankle) New Tom Couch (Collingwood VFL) FREMANTLE Backs Antoni Grover Luke McPharlin Adam McPhee Half backs Paul Duffield, Michael Johnson, David Mundy Centreline Michael Barlow Ryan Crowley Clancee Pearce Half forwards Tendai Mzungu Christopher Mayne Stephen Hill Forwards Hayden Ballantyne Matthew Pavlich Kepler Bradley Followers Jonathon Griffin Matthew de Boer Dylan Roberton Interchange Greg Broughton Garrick Ibbotson Cameron Sutcliffe Michael Walters Emergencies Zachary Clarke Lachie Neale Lee Spurr In Michael Walters Out Nick Lower (concussion) THE YEAR SO FAR by Sam the Stats Man Melbourne's season in hell continues with Injuries and poor form still dogging the club. Here, se look at the players statistically over the first fifteen rounds:- BAIL, Rohan MFC 10 games, 5 goals, CFC Sen 1 game, 0 goals. The former Queenslander's season was disrupted with a lingering concussion injury but he has now been back in the Demons' team for the past two games. BARTRAM, Clint MFC 8 games, 1 goal. Was enjoying his best year since his debut season before succumbing to a season-ending knee injury. BATE, Matthew MFC 10 games, 7 goals, CFC Sen 1 game, 2 goals. Bate has fought hard for a place in the team after a tough campaign in 2011. He's had a number of starts in the green vest which hasn't helped him and he needs to work hard to retain his place on the list. BENNELL, Jamie MFC 5 games, 2 goals, CFC Sen 6 games, 2 goals. Bennell has been in and out of the Melbourne team without being able to consolidate his spot. BLEASE, Sam MFC 8 games, 6 goals, CFC Sen 5 games, 5 goals. This enigmatic youngster has great flair and is learning to play the Neeld style. Has shown promise. CLARK, Mitch MFC 11 games, 29 goals. A true revelation, the Demon recruit of the year from Brisbane had been outstanding until he suffered a foot injury in the GWS match which ended his season prematurely. His loss cannot be underestimated. COOK, Lucas CFC Sen 7 games, 12 goals, CFC Res 1 game, 5 goals. The young tall key forward is developing well in VFL ranks and is not too far away. COUCH, Tom® CFC Sen 11 games, 8 goals. Couch has had an outstanding season at Casey without being able to break into AFL ranks. A four goal haul last week might have changed that! DAVEY, Aaron MFC 9 games 7 goals, CFC Sen 3 games, 2 goals. The Flash has struggled since injuring his knee last year and has found himself back at Casey on a couple of occasions. DAVIS, Troy CFC Sen 11 games, 2 goals. Davis has shown great promise in defence at VFL level and was on the cusp of higher selection a few weeks ago. He seems to have perhaps tired and his form has slipped recently. DUNN, Lynden MFC 11 games, 8 goals, CFC Sen 2 games, 3 goals. Dunn's form has been a mixed bag as the club has tried him up forward and down back. EVANS, Michael® The rookie midfielder is due to return in the Casey Development League team after missing the whole season so far with stress fractures in his back. FITZPATRICK, Jack MFC 1 game, 0 goals, CFC Sen 9 games, 13 goals, CFC Res 1 game, 2 goals. The young Demon has been doing it tough in a career dotted with injury and illness concerns. Things didn't get any better when he was recently diagnosed as a diabetic. FRAWLEY, James MFC 12 games, 0 goals. Has been steady in defence but not close to his outstanding form of 2010 when he made All Australian. GARLAND, Colin MFC 14 games 7 goals. The defender-turned-forward has had some success since the move in the team's first win of the season against the Bombers but the jury is still out as to whether it will be a permanent change. GAWN, Max. Coming back from a second ACL operation, Gawn is said to be training the house down with his running and weights work but won't be seen on the footy field till next year. GREEN, Brad MFC 6 games, 2 goals, CFC Sen 3 games, 8 goals. Injuries and form lapses have disrupted the former skipper's season. Should return to the Melbourne team after a 6 goal display in the VFL last week. GRIMES, Jack MFC 13 games, 0 goals, CFC Sen 1 game, 0 goals. The skipper has had a tough initiation in a difficult year and, although not at the top of his form, Grimes has shown a good measure of promise as a leader. GYSBERTS, Jordan CFC Sen 7 games, 2 goals, CFC Res 1 game, 0 goals. The young midfielder has suffered a number of injuries as he fights his way back to the top level. HOWE, Jeremy MFC 14 games, 12 goals. One of the big Melbourne stories of the year, the high flyer (fourth in contested marks in the AFL) needs to improve his conversion rate in front of goal to become a more complete player. JAMAR, Mark MFC 12 games, 2 goals. The Russian has been having a hot and cold season in the ruck and has missed the last two games with a calf injury. JETTA, Neville CFC Sen 2 games, 1 goal. Has been out most of the year after an interrupted pre season (shoulder) and a long term injury (ankle) incurred in a practice march. Working his way back at Casey. JONES, Nathan MFC 13 games 12 goals. Jones is the stand out player in the side this year and looks headed for a club champion award at the end of the year. JURRAH, Liam MFC 1 game, 0 goals, CFC Sen 2 games, 2 goals. The Warlpiri Wizard has had a horror season both on and off the field. Jurrah's well documented legal woes have been matched by injury concerns in the form of a wrist injury followed by an ankle problem leaving him with less than a full AFL game and no goals under his belt. LAWRENCE, Kelvin® CFC Sen 7 games, 5 goals, CFC Res 3 games, 4 goals. The young rookie appears to be in a hole at Casey and has not progressed since being drafted at the end of 2010. Currently recovering from a calf injury. MACDONALD, Joel MFC 8 games, 0 goals, CFC Sen 2 games, 4 goals. Has had some moments after fighting his way back into the Demon line up a few weeks ago. MAGNER, James® MFC 14 games, 4 goals. Had a great start to the season in the midfield but seems to have tired noticeably of late after playing every game. MARTIN, Stefan MFC 4 games, 3 goals, CFC Sen 3 games, 7 goals, CFC Res 1 game, 0 goals. Has had a few ailments but his recent return to the Melbourne line up has been impressive. McDONALD, Tom MFC 12 games, 0 goals, CFC Sen 2 games, 4 goals. MCKENZIE, Jordie MFC 14 games, 3 goals. Earning a reputation as a highly competent tagger who can also win the football. MOLONEY, Brent MFC 12 games, 3 goals. After a stellar season in 2011, Beamer has disappointed so far. MORTON, Cale MFC 8 games, 2 goals, CFC Sen 5 games, 1 goal. The former top four draft pick has had some difficult times of late as he struggles to find the form he showed early in his career. NICHOLSON, Daniel® MFC 6 games, 0 goals, CFC Sen 3 games, 1 goal, CFC Res 1 game, 0 goals. Has come back from injury and added some run to the team but needs to work hard on improving his disposal skills. PETTERD, Ricky MFC 2 games, 0 goals, CFC Sen 7 games, 6 goals. Restricted by injury and form to only two AFL games to date which has been disappointing. RIVERS, Jared MFC 14 games, 6 goals. Has played the whole season and was recently moved forward with some success. SELLAR, James MFC 9 games, 1 goal, CFC Sen 1 game, 0 goals. Surprised with some good form as a tall defender. SHEAHAN, Jai® CFC Sen 10 games, 0 goals, CFC Res 1 game, 1 goal. After a great start at Casey, he started to run out of form and was demoted to the reserves. Now out injured but he has potential. SPENCER, Jake MFC 2 games, 0 goals, CFC Sen 7 games, 1 goal, CFC Res 1 game, 1 goal. Has overcome a knee reconstruction and done well to earn a place with the Demons in Jamar's absence. STRAUSS, James CFC Sen 4 games, 0 goals, CFC Res 2 games, 0 goals. Recovering from a broken leg, Strauss is starting to show some form in the VFL. SYLVIA, Colin MFC 9 games, 7 goals. An interrupted pre season, a back injury, poor form and question marks about his attitude have dominated discussion about the club's former top five draft choice. Started showing some good signs in recent weeks. TAGGERT, Rory CFC Sen 3 games, 2 goals. Back injuries have marred his debut season but one of his games for Casey was a ripper. TAPSCOTT, Luke MFC 9 games, 0 goals, CFC Sen 4 games, 3 goals. Hampered by the lack of a pre season, Tapscott hasn't hit his straps or come near to his potential this year. TRENGOVE, Jack MFC 14 games, 5 goals. Has laboured under the weight of the captaincy and, at times appeared unfit but among that, has done a few good things here and there. It's part of a major learning curve for the game's youngest ever skipper. TYNAN, Josh MFC 1 game, 0 goals, CFC Sen 6 games, 2 goals. Tynan has created an impression in his brief time at the club with a hard at it approach that suggests a long AFL career beckons. VINEY, Jack* CFC Sen 1 game, 0 goals. The prospective father/son selection suffered a broken jaw in his only game so far at Casey but recovered to play well recently in two Under 18 championship games with Vic Metro. WATTS, Jack MFC 12 games, 4 goals, CFC Sen 3 games, 7 goals. Despite having his critics, Watts has been excellent since he was moved into defence where his disposal and decision-making skills have been outstanding. WILLIAMS, Leigh® CFC Sen 5 games, 6 goals, CFC Res 3 games, 7 goals. The young rookie tall is still finding his way with the Scorpions after a serious illness.
  22. FIFTY SHADES OF PURPLE by Sam the Stats Man Those of us who are experts in the field of statistics are only too aware of the fact that there are numerous shades of purple but for this Saturday's Melbourne home game against Fremantle at Etihad Stadium, I'm not expecting to see many different shades of that colour in the crowd. Nor will there be very many versions of the home club's colours either! The Demons rarely attract large numbers of their supporters for "home" games at Etihad Stadium. In particular, when the fixture is against the highly favoured Dockers and the team is the 16th-placed side ahead only of the new franchises, the numbers simply don't stack up. At around this time last year, a Melbourne team that still had an outside chance of making the finals attracted a mere 15,740 punters to its game at this same venue against an exciting top four combination in the West Coast Eagles and they were duly smashed. The club has won only two of its past 20 games at Etihad and this includes 12 losses in a row by an average of 44 points since 2008. All of this points to the fact that, although Freo have never beaten Melbourne at this ground (they’ve met there twice) there will be plenty of empty seats when play starts unless the club comes up with something to attract the fans to the game. Perhaps, a promise from the Demon camp that the team can come up with a better start than what they have produced of late. Last week against the Tigers, they could come up with one measly scoring shot to ten in the opening term. Even the GWS Giants got off to a flyer in their clash the week before that. The last time the Demons got off to a big start to a game was more that twelve months ago in their last home fixture against the Dockers when they kicked the first five goals on their way to an 89 point win. However, that game was at the MCG against an injury depleted side. This time it's Melbourne that has a large injury list with some key players like goal kicking forwards in Mitch Clark and Liam Jurrah missing, so the prospect of a good start seems unlikely. Therefore, with the Purple Haze still in finals contention, I have no hesitation in coming to this conclusion:- Fremantle by 50 points. THE GAME Melbourne v Fremantle at Etihad Stadium, Saturday July 14, 1:45pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 13 wins Fremantle 14 wins Etihad Stadium Melbourne 2 wins Fremantle 0 wins Since 2000 Melbourne 9 wins Fremantle 10 wins The Coaches Neeld 0 wins Lyon 0 wins MEDIA TV Fox Footy Channel (live) at 1:30pm Channel 7 (delayed) at 3:00pm RADIO SEN Triple M THE BETTING Melbourne $3.00 Fremantle $1.40 THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 22.17.149 defeated Fremantle 8.12.60 Round 13, 2011 at the MCG The team really fired up in this game with skipper Brad Green leading the way kicking five goals in a game where the Demons were rarely troubled and under very little pressure. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE Backs Daniel Nicholson James Frawley Luke Tapscott Half backs Joel Macdonald Tom McDonald Jack Grimes Centreline Jack Trengove Jordie McKenzie Jeremy Howe Half forwards Ricky Petterd Jared Rivers Sam Blease Forwards Colin Sylvia Colin Garland Brad Green Followers Mark Jamar Rohan Bail Nathan Jones Interchange Matthew Bate Jamie Bennell Tom Couch Stef Martin Emergencies James Magner Jake Spencer James Strauss In Tom Couch Brad Green, Mark Jamar Tom McDonald Ricky Petterd Out Lynden Dunn (suspended) James Magner Brent Moloney Jake Spencer Jack Watts (ankle) New Tom Couch (Collingwood VFL) FREMANTLE Backs Antoni Grover Luke McPharlin Adam McPhee Half backs Paul Duffield, Michael Johnson, David Mundy Centreline Michael Barlow Ryan Crowley Clancee Pearce Half forwards Tendai Mzungu Christopher Mayne Stephen Hill Forwards Hayden Ballantyne Matthew Pavlich Kepler Bradley Followers Jonathon Griffin Matthew de Boer Dylan Roberton Interchange Greg Broughton Garrick Ibbotson Cameron Sutcliffe Michael Walters Emergencies Zachary Clarke Lachie Neale Lee Spurr In Michael Walters Out Nick Lower (concussion) THE YEAR SO FAR by Sam the Stats Man Melbourne's season in hell continues with Injuries and poor form still dogging the club. Here, se look at the players statistically over the first fifteen rounds:- BAIL, Rohan MFC 10 games, 5 goals, CFC Sen 1 game, 0 goals. The former Queenslander's season was disrupted with a lingering concussion injury but he has now been back in the Demons' team for the past two games. BARTRAM, Clint MFC 8 games, 1 goal. Was enjoying his best year since his debut season before succumbing to a season-ending knee injury. BATE, Matthew MFC 10 games, 7 goals, CFC Sen 1 game, 2 goals. Bate has fought hard for a place in the team after a tough campaign in 2011. He's had a number of starts in the green vest which hasn't helped him and he needs to work hard to retain his place on the list. BENNELL, Jamie MFC 5 games, 2 goals, CFC Sen 6 games, 2 goals. Bennell has been in and out of the Melbourne team without being able to consolidate his spot. BLEASE, Sam MFC 8 games, 6 goals, CFC Sen 5 games, 5 goals. This enigmatic youngster has great flair and is learning to play the Neeld style. Has shown promise. CLARK, Mitch MFC 11 games, 29 goals. A true revelation, the Demon recruit of the year from Brisbane had been outstanding until he suffered a foot injury in the GWS match which ended his season prematurely. His loss cannot be underestimated. COOK, Lucas CFC Sen 7 games, 12 goals, CFC Res 1 game, 5 goals. The young tall key forward is developing well in VFL ranks and is not too far away. COUCH, Tom® CFC Sen 11 games, 8 goals. Couch has had an outstanding season at Casey without being able to break into AFL ranks. A four goal haul last week might have changed that! DAVEY, Aaron MFC 9 games 7 goals, CFC Sen 3 games, 2 goals. The Flash has struggled since injuring his knee last year and has found himself back at Casey on a couple of occasions. DAVIS, Troy CFC Sen 11 games, 2 goals. Davis has shown great promise in defence at VFL level and was on the cusp of higher selection a few weeks ago. He seems to have perhaps tired and his form has slipped recently. DUNN, Lynden MFC 11 games, 8 goals, CFC Sen 2 games, 3 goals. Dunn's form has been a mixed bag as the club has tried him up forward and down back. EVANS, Michael® The rookie midfielder is due to return in the Casey Development League team after missing the whole season so far with stress fractures in his back. FITZPATRICK, Jack MFC 1 game, 0 goals, CFC Sen 9 games, 13 goals, CFC Res 1 game, 2 goals. The young Demon has been doing it tough in a career dotted with injury and illness concerns. Things didn't get any better when he was recently diagnosed as a diabetic. FRAWLEY, James MFC 12 games, 0 goals. Has been steady in defence but not close to his outstanding form of 2010 when he made All Australian. GARLAND, Colin MFC 14 games 7 goals. The defender-turned-forward has had some success since the move in the team's first win of the season against the Bombers but the jury is still out as to whether it will be a permanent change. GAWN, Max. Coming back from a second ACL operation, Gawn is said to be training the house down with his running and weights work but won't be seen on the footy field till next year. GREEN, Brad MFC 6 games, 2 goals, CFC Sen 3 games, 8 goals. Injuries and form lapses have disrupted the former skipper's season. Should return to the Melbourne team after a 6 goal display in the VFL last week. GRIMES, Jack MFC 13 games, 0 goals, CFC Sen 1 game, 0 goals. The skipper has had a tough initiation in a difficult year and, although not at the top of his form, Grimes has shown a good measure of promise as a leader. GYSBERTS, Jordan CFC Sen 7 games, 2 goals, CFC Res 1 game, 0 goals. The young midfielder has suffered a number of injuries as he fights his way back to the top level. HOWE, Jeremy MFC 14 games, 12 goals. One of the big Melbourne stories of the year, the high flyer (fourth in contested marks in the AFL) needs to improve his conversion rate in front of goal to become a more complete player. JAMAR, Mark MFC 12 games, 2 goals. The Russian has been having a hot and cold season in the ruck and has missed the last two games with a calf injury. JETTA, Neville CFC Sen 2 games, 1 goal. Has been out most of the year after an interrupted pre season (shoulder) and a long term injury (ankle) incurred in a practice march. Working his way back at Casey. JONES, Nathan MFC 13 games 12 goals. Jones is the stand out player in the side this year and looks headed for a club champion award at the end of the year. JURRAH, Liam MFC 1 game, 0 goals, CFC Sen 2 games, 2 goals. The Warlpiri Wizard has had a horror season both on and off the field. Jurrah's well documented legal woes have been matched by injury concerns in the form of a wrist injury followed by an ankle problem leaving him with less than a full AFL game and no goals under his belt. LAWRENCE, Kelvin® CFC Sen 7 games, 5 goals, CFC Res 3 games, 4 goals. The young rookie appears to be in a hole at Casey and has not progressed since being drafted at the end of 2010. Currently recovering from a calf injury. MACDONALD, Joel MFC 8 games, 0 goals, CFC Sen 2 games, 4 goals. Has had some moments after fighting his way back into the Demon line up a few weeks ago. MAGNER, James® MFC 14 games, 4 goals. Had a great start to the season in the midfield but seems to have tired noticeably of late after playing every game. MARTIN, Stefan MFC 4 games, 3 goals, CFC Sen 3 games, 7 goals, CFC Res 1 game, 0 goals. Has had a few ailments but his recent return to the Melbourne line up has been impressive. McDONALD, Tom MFC 12 games, 0 goals, CFC Sen 2 games, 4 goals. MCKENZIE, Jordie MFC 14 games, 3 goals. Earning a reputation as a highly competent tagger who can also win the football. MOLONEY, Brent MFC 12 games, 3 goals. After a stellar season in 2011, Beamer has disappointed so far. MORTON, Cale MFC 8 games, 2 goals, CFC Sen 5 games, 1 goal. The former top four draft pick has had some difficult times of late as he struggles to find the form he showed early in his career. NICHOLSON, Daniel® MFC 6 games, 0 goals, CFC Sen 3 games, 1 goal, CFC Res 1 game, 0 goals. Has come back from injury and added some run to the team but needs to work hard on improving his disposal skills. PETTERD, Ricky MFC 2 games, 0 goals, CFC Sen 7 games, 6 goals. Restricted by injury and form to only two AFL games to date which has been disappointing. RIVERS, Jared MFC 14 games, 6 goals. Has played the whole season and was recently moved forward with some success. SELLAR, James MFC 9 games, 1 goal, CFC Sen 1 game, 0 goals. Surprised with some good form as a tall defender. SHEAHAN, Jai® CFC Sen 10 games, 0 goals, CFC Res 1 game, 1 goal. After a great start at Casey, he started to run out of form and was demoted to the reserves. Now out injured but he has potential. SPENCER, Jake MFC 2 games, 0 goals, CFC Sen 7 games, 1 goal, CFC Res 1 game, 1 goal. Has overcome a knee reconstruction and done well to earn a place with the Demons in Jamar's absence. STRAUSS, James CFC Sen 4 games, 0 goals, CFC Res 2 games, 0 goals. Recovering from a broken leg, Strauss is starting to show some form in the VFL. SYLVIA, Colin MFC 9 games, 7 goals. An interrupted pre season, a back injury, poor form and question marks about his attitude have dominated discussion about the club's former top five draft choice. Started showing some good signs in recent weeks. TAGGERT, Rory CFC Sen 3 games, 2 goals. Back injuries have marred his debut season but one of his games for Casey was a ripper. TAPSCOTT, Luke MFC 9 games, 0 goals, CFC Sen 4 games, 3 goals. Hampered by the lack of a pre season, Tapscott hasn't hit his straps or come near to his potential this year. TRENGOVE, Jack MFC 14 games, 5 goals. Has laboured under the weight of the captaincy and, at times appeared unfit but among that, has done a few good things here and there. It's part of a major learning curve for the game's youngest ever skipper. TYNAN, Josh MFC 1 game, 0 goals, CFC Sen 6 games, 2 goals. Tynan has created an impression in his brief time at the club with a hard at it approach that suggests a long AFL career beckons. VINEY, Jack* CFC Sen 1 game, 0 goals. The prospective father/son selection suffered a broken jaw in his only game so far at Casey but recovered to play well recently in two Under 18 championship games with Vic Metro. WATTS, Jack MFC 12 games, 4 goals, CFC Sen 3 games, 7 goals. Despite having his critics, Watts has been excellent since he was moved into defence where his disposal and decision-making skills have been outstanding. WILLIAMS, Leigh® CFC Sen 5 games, 6 goals, CFC Res 3 games, 7 goals. The young rookie tall is still finding his way with the Scorpions after a serious illness.
  23. RUDE AWAKENING by the Demonland Crew and hosted by JVM The Round 14 fixture between Melbourne and Richmond has assumed a greater measure of significance in the scheme of things as a result of the week's happenings at Tigerland. Our correspondents have looked at the game from different perspectives, starting with Demon Head who looks at the recent history of games between these clubs:- Melbourne and Richmond have an interesting recent history. Who could ever forget the "Jordan McMahon" game which was decided when that player goaled after the siren to secure victory for the Tigers and a priority draft pick for the Demons? In recent seasons Melbourne had the ascendency but all that has changed as Richmond continued their upward surge of improvement late last season to atone for the result when the teams met earlier in the season. This year, it was Richmond easily after an even first half and I can't see the result being overturned this week. It's a little unfortunate for the fans that injuries have hit Melbourne where it hurt the most at this stage of the season. You just can't afford to lose the likes of Mitch Clark, Aaron Davey, Mark Jamar and Nathan Jones in one week as happened against the Lions. Then to lose the most recent NAB Rising Star nominee in Tom McDonald five minutes into the next game is nothing short of frustrating. Some of those players might be back this week but the task of winning will be tough, such has been the disruption to the team's structure. Richmond has all the incentive to win. A loss to a team placed 16th would just about destroy their finals hopes. They can't afford to lose and they won't! premiers13 disagrees. Even before the news broke about the events at football's new "Sleepy Hollow", this correspondent believed in the Dees:- While Melbourne has been injury depleted, there awaits a massive opportunity this week against Richmond. Let's face it. No King, no Vickery, no Jackson, Morris doubtful - this must upset the Tiger balance. Hopefully back for Melbourne will be Jones, Jamar and Davey. Possible debuts from Couch or Cook or both and we have an interesting contest. While Sellar is 50/50, Richmond will be nervous of the improving Dees. Melbourne have absolutely nothing to lose. Rivers will probably venture back , while Garland will remain in the a key forward post. One gets the feeling that Garland is a 6 goal game, waiting to happen. Shutting down Deledio, Martin and Crotchin will determine the outcome. Jamar or Martin will have to give Maric a bath. Sylvia is getting better each week and I think Howe is about to take mark of the century. The game might be won at the selection table. If the Dees win, it will be wonderful, if they lose, then picks 3+4 seem assured. Melbourne may well surprise, as some of their middle of the road players will be starting to second guess their futures. They all need good performances from hereon in. Melbourne supporters will sleep well at either outcome. My pick Dees by 17 mrtwister missed the gaffe about the misspelling of Richmond's Trent Cotchin's name (a Freudian slip?) but he did note some problems with the way the afl.com preview expressed the scenario in the event that Cotchin "goes forward" then ... "Daniel Nicholson can sit on him and rotate Trengove through the back half as a spare." Yep. Go figure? THE GAME Melbourne v Richmond at the MCG Saturday 7 July 2012 at 2.10pm. HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 79 wins Richmond 101 wins 2 draws At MCG Melbourne 60 wins Richmond 66 wins 1 draw Since 2000 Melbourne 9 wins Richmond 12 wins The Coaches Neeld 0 wins Hardwick 1 win MEDIA TV – Fox Footy Channel Live at 2.00pm RADIO -3AW Triple M THE BETTING Melbourne $5.00 to win Richmond $1.17 to win THE LAST TIME THEY MET Richmond 20.13.133 defeated Melbourne 11.8.74 at the MCG, Round 3, 2012 The Tigers were on top from the beginning but the Demons worked hard and had their moments in the first half. After the main break, the wheels fell off for Melbourne which simply couldn't muster up any run in the midfield. Richmond scored 9.3.57 to a solitary goal and finished with an emphatic 59 point win. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE Backs Daniel Nicholson James Frawley Jared Rivers Half backs Joel Macdonald Jack Watts Jack Grimes Centreline Jack Trengove Jordie McKenzie Jeremy Howe Half forwards Colin Sylvia, Stef Martin, Sam Blease Forwards James Magner Colin Garland Luke Tapscott Followers Jake Spencer Brent Moloney Nathan Jones Interchange Rohan Bail Matthew Bate Jamie Bennell Lynden Dunn Emergencies Lucas Cook Ricky Petterd James Strauss In Jamie Bennell Nathan Jones Out Tom McDonald (lung) James Sellar (thigh) RICHMOND Backs Chris Newman Alex Rance Steven Morris Half backs Matt Dea Ben Griffiths Bachar Houli Centreline Brandon Ellis Trent Cotchin Shaun Grigg Half forwards Shane Edwards Brett Deledio Matthew White Forwards Robin Nahas Jack Riewoldt Addam Maric Followers Ivan Maric Reece Conca Shane Tuck Interchange Jake Batchelor Tom Derickx Luke McGuane Brett O'Hanlon Emergencies Matthew Arnot Todd Elton Brad Miller In Jake Batchelor Reece Conca Tom Derickx Luke McGuane Addam Maric Brett O’Hanlon Matthew White Out Dan Connors (Khyber Pass) Todd Elton (omitted) Dylan Grimes (hamstring) Daniel Jackson (hamstring) Jake King (knee) Dustin Martin (club suspension) Brad Miller (omitted) New Tom Derickx (Claremont) Then the news came on Wednesday that Richmond had given the sack to one player and banned another for two weeks after both had dozed off and missed a training session the day before. It was certainly a rude awakening for the fighting fury from Tigerland. Legal Eagle Rumpole offered the lads some free advice:- I believe the time has come to offer the Richmond Football Club and its players some wisdom and legal counsel in preparation for the coming game and the rest of the season. 1. Never plead guilty; 2. Deny everything and 3. Play the game in good spirit. It is my considered opinion that the events of the week, the injuries and the disruption to your focus (and I can understand there might be problems with focussing when players undertake the activities that are alleged against them) will make it difficult for you to perform at your best when you face your Demons. Verdict: Melbourne Magistrates Court by 25 Penalty Points. SidViscious (no relation to another individual who might have had problems in the past with the use of certain substances) took a different approach but came down on the side of the Demons:- The events of July 4, 2012 have swung the momentum of the game dramatically. The Tigers would have been strong favourites before the sanctions against Dustin Martin (who averages 20 possessions and a goal a game against the Dees) and Daniel Connors who learned everything he knew about etiquette and behaviour on interstate trips from former teammate Ben Cousins but now it's not such a sure thing. As it is, Richmond reserves some of its best football for the elite teams whilst it hasn't really been that flash when taking on some of the others. It lost to Fremantle in Melbourne recently after beating Sydney and Hawthorn and it was rubbish against GWS a couple of weeks ago before losing to Adelaide after an eight goal first quarter. This suggests that Damien Hardwick's boys have some weaknesses that can be exploited. Their midfield is decidedly weaker although it still has the likes of Cotchin and Delidio but the Tigers are iffy in other positions so if James Frawley can do a number on Jack Riewoldt, it will definitely be game on. I'm tipping Melbourne by 12 points. Thanks to the Demonland crew for your input. I hope the foregoing hasn't put anyone to sleep!
  24. RUDE AWAKENING by the Demonland Crew and hosted by JVM The Round 14 fixture between Melbourne and Richmond has assumed a greater measure of significance in the scheme of things as a result of the week's happenings at Tigerland. Our correspondents have looked at the game from different perspectives, starting with Demon Head who looks at the recent history of games between these clubs:- Melbourne and Richmond have an interesting recent history. Who could ever forget the "Jordan McMahon" game which was decided when that player goaled after the siren to secure victory for the Tigers and a priority draft pick for the Demons? In recent seasons Melbourne had the ascendency but all that has changed as Richmond continued their upward surge of improvement late last season to atone for the result when the teams met earlier in the season. This year, it was Richmond easily after an even first half and I can't see the result being overturned this week. It's a little unfortunate for the fans that injuries have hit Melbourne where it hurt the most at this stage of the season. You just can't afford to lose the likes of Mitch Clark, Aaron Davey, Mark Jamar and Nathan Jones in one week as happened against the Lions. Then to lose the most recent NAB Rising Star nominee in Tom McDonald five minutes into the next game is nothing short of frustrating. Some of those players might be back this week but the task of winning will be tough, such has been the disruption to the team's structure. Richmond has all the incentive to win. A loss to a team placed 16th would just about destroy their finals hopes. They can't afford to lose and they won't! premiers13 disagrees. Even before the news broke about the events at football's new "Sleepy Hollow", this correspondent believed in the Dees:- While Melbourne has been injury depleted, there awaits a massive opportunity this week against Richmond. Let's face it. No King, no Vickery, no Jackson, Morris doubtful - this must upset the Tiger balance. Hopefully back for Melbourne will be Jones, Jamar and Davey. Possible debuts from Couch or Cook or both and we have an interesting contest. While Sellar is 50/50, Richmond will be nervous of the improving Dees. Melbourne have absolutely nothing to lose. Rivers will probably venture back , while Garland will remain in the a key forward post. One gets the feeling that Garland is a 6 goal game, waiting to happen. Shutting down Deledio, Martin and Crotchin will determine the outcome. Jamar or Martin will have to give Maric a bath. Sylvia is getting better each week and I think Howe is about to take mark of the century. The game might be won at the selection table. If the Dees win, it will be wonderful, if they lose, then picks 3+4 seem assured. Melbourne may well surprise, as some of their middle of the road players will be starting to second guess their futures. They all need good performances from hereon in. Melbourne supporters will sleep well at either outcome. My pick Dees by 17 mrtwister missed the gaffe about the misspelling of Richmond's Trent Cotchin's name (a Freudian slip?) but he did note some problems with the way the afl.com preview expressed the scenario in the event that Cotchin "goes forward" then ... "Daniel Nicholson can sit on him and rotate Trengove through the back half as a spare." Yep. Go figure? THE GAME Melbourne v Richmond at the MCG Saturday 7 July 2012 at 2.10pm. HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 79 wins Richmond 101 wins 2 draws At MCG Melbourne 60 wins Richmond 66 wins 1 draw Since 2000 Melbourne 9 wins Richmond 12 wins The Coaches Neeld 0 wins Hardwick 1 win MEDIA TV – Fox Footy Channel Live at 2.00pm RADIO -3AW Triple M THE BETTING Melbourne $5.00 to win Richmond $1.17 to win THE LAST TIME THEY MET Richmond 20.13.133 defeated Melbourne 11.8.74 at the MCG, Round 3, 2012 The Tigers were on top from the beginning but the Demons worked hard and had their moments in the first half. After the main break, the wheels fell off for Melbourne which simply couldn't muster up any run in the midfield. Richmond scored 9.3.57 to a solitary goal and finished with an emphatic 59 point win. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE Backs Daniel Nicholson James Frawley Jared Rivers Half backs Joel Macdonald Jack Watts Jack Grimes Centreline Jack Trengove Jordie McKenzie Jeremy Howe Half forwards Colin Sylvia, Stef Martin, Sam Blease Forwards James Magner Colin Garland Luke Tapscott Followers Jake Spencer Brent Moloney Nathan Jones Interchange Rohan Bail Matthew Bate Jamie Bennell Lynden Dunn Emergencies Lucas Cook Ricky Petterd James Strauss In Jamie Bennell Nathan Jones Out Tom McDonald (lung) James Sellar (thigh) RICHMOND Backs Chris Newman Alex Rance Steven Morris Half backs Matt Dea Ben Griffiths Bachar Houli Centreline Brandon Ellis Trent Cotchin Shaun Grigg Half forwards Shane Edwards Brett Deledio Matthew White Forwards Robin Nahas Jack Riewoldt Addam Maric Followers Ivan Maric Reece Conca Shane Tuck Interchange Jake Batchelor Tom Derickx Luke McGuane Brett O'Hanlon Emergencies Matthew Arnot Todd Elton Brad Miller In Jake Batchelor Reece Conca Tom Derickx Luke McGuane Addam Maric Brett O’Hanlon Matthew White Out Dan Connors (Khyber Pass) Todd Elton (omitted) Dylan Grimes (hamstring) Daniel Jackson (hamstring) Jake King (knee) Dustin Martin (club suspension) Brad Miller (omitted) New Tom Derickx (Claremont) Then the news came on Wednesday that Richmond had given the sack to one player and banned another for two weeks after both had dozed off and missed a training session the day before. It was certainly a rude awakening for the fighting fury from Tigerland. Legal Eagle Rumpole offered the lads some free advice:- I believe the time has come to offer the Richmond Football Club and its players some wisdom and legal counsel in preparation for the coming game and the rest of the season. 1. Never plead guilty; 2. Deny everything and 3. Play the game in good spirit. It is my considered opinion that the events of the week, the injuries and the disruption to your focus (and I can understand there might be problems with focussing when players undertake the activities that are alleged against them) will make it difficult for you to perform at your best when you face your Demons. Verdict: Melbourne Magistrates Court by 25 Penalty Points. SidViscious (no relation to another individual who might have had problems in the past with the use of certain substances) took a different approach but came down on the side of the Demons:- The events of July 4, 2012 have swung the momentum of the game dramatically. The Tigers would have been strong favourites before the sanctions against Dustin Martin (who averages 20 possessions and a goal a game against the Dees) and Daniel Connors who learned everything he knew about etiquette and behaviour on interstate trips from former teammate Ben Cousins but now it's not such a sure thing. As it is, Richmond reserves some of its best football for the elite teams whilst it hasn't really been that flash when taking on some of the others. It lost to Fremantle in Melbourne recently after beating Sydney and Hawthorn and it was rubbish against GWS a couple of weeks ago before losing to Adelaide after an eight goal first quarter. This suggests that Damien Hardwick's boys have some weaknesses that can be exploited. Their midfield is decidedly weaker although it still has the likes of Cotchin and Delidio but the Tigers are iffy in other positions so if James Frawley can do a number on Jack Riewoldt, it will definitely be game on. I'm tipping Melbourne by 12 points. Thanks to the Demonland crew for your input. I hope the foregoing hasn't put anyone to sleep!
  25. THE HEAT IS OFF by the Oracle A little over three months ago, it all started with the Brisbane Lions at the end of a long, hot summer. It was a time full of hope and a measure of confidence. There was so much about the club that was new and the pre season, while not inspirational, had produced some flashes that gave rise to some inspiration. To be sure, a handful of key personnel were missing the opening game of the season but this was Brisbane and it was our home soil. The Demons had their moments in the first half before they capitulated in the second. To the surprise of many, it was the visiting Lions who dominated the midfield and ran Melbourne off its feet in the hot conditions. Mark Neeld's Demons were already experiencing a horror run off the field but now the heat was was well and truly on where the game is really played - on the ground. That run stretched and extended itself in many directions over the ensuing two months with defeat after defeat, some of them crushings that left officials, players and supporters totally numbed and with no respite in sight. Relief came finally with a totally unexpected victory on drizzly Saturday night against Essendon, then one of the premiership favourites, and more lately, when Melbourne thrashed the fledgling GWS Giants last Sunday at the MCG. With the cold of winter finally setting in, the heat was finally off for the Demons of 2012. Their season is shot and there will be no finals glory (though the dreamers might speak of "mathematical possibility") the coming ten weeks provide very little for supporters of the club to which they can look forward with much excitement. There's the possibility of some face saving by winning a few of the remaining games - a number of them are definitely winnable. There's the possible introduction of new faces from the ranks of those going around at Casey and there will be farewells to old warriors. Those with keen eyes for the game will watch closely to observe the development of Mark Neeld's game plan and whether it's sinking in on the playing group. Others will be hoping the players stay healthy so that they can start the 2013 campaign on a good footing while others still, will be keeping a watchful eye on the youngsters coming through junior ranks in the hope that their club can snaffle a future star later in the year. It's clear that the focus will not be entirely where we all hoped it would be at this stage of the season when the Demons ran onto the field against the Brisbane Lions in March. We couldn't have known then that by the time the teams were due to meet again this Sunday in Brisbane, that the team's leading goalkicker for this season would be out of action for the year, that his counterpart from last year would not yet have played a full game or kicked even one goal and the one from the year before would also spend most of the season on the sidelines with a combination of injury and form worries. That is the state of the club's season to date. My preview of the opening game was entitled "The Heat Is On" but that is definitely not the case as we move into the cold month of July. THE GAME Brisbane v Melbourne at The Gabba - Sunday, 1 July 2012 at 3.15 pm. HEAD TO HEAD Overall Brisbane 11 wins Melbourne 19 wins Gabba Brisbane 8 wins Melbourne 4 wins Since 2000 Brisbane 8 wins Melbourne 8 wins The Coaches Voss 1 win Neeld 0 wins MEDIA Channel 7 TV Fox Footy (live at 3:00pm AEST) RADIO SEN ABC774 THE BETTING Brisbane $1.25 Melbourne $4.00 THE LAST TIME THEY MET Brisbane Lions 17.17.119 defeated Melbourne 11.12.78 in round 1, 2012 at the MCG Melbourne opened as the firm favourite for the opening round clash but it was ultimately exposed in the midfield where Brisbane veteran and his on ball cohorts put on a masterclass winning at will at the stoppages, running and spreading at will against the sluggish Demons. Newcomer James Magner was a revelation and Melbourne's best player in a disappointing effort that set the scene for many weeks to come. THE TEAMS BRISBANE LIONS Backs Josh Drummond Joel Patfull Ryan Harwood Half backs Mitch Golby Niall McKeever Jed Adcock Centreline Ryan Lester Daniel Rich Pearce Hanley Half forwards Simon Black Jonathan Brown Dayne Zorko Forwards James Polkinghorne Daniel Merrett Ashley McGrath Followers Ben Hudson Tom Rockliff Andrew Raines Interchange Rohan Bewick Josh Green Jared Polec Jack Redden Emergencies Jack Crisp Patrick Karnezis Elliot Yeo In Jared Polec Out Matt Maguire (elbow) MELBOURNE Backs Tom McDonald James Frawley Jared Rivers Half backs Daniel Nicholson Jack Watts Jack Grimes Centreline James Magner Jordie McKenzie Joel Macdonald Half forwards Jack Trengove James Sellar Rohan Bail Forwards Jeremy Howe Colin Garland Luke Tapscott Followers Jake Spencer Brent Moloney Colin Sylvia Interchange Matthew Bate Sam Blease Lynden Dunn Stef Martin Emergencies Jamie Bennell (Mark Jamar Nathan Jones replaced) In Rohan Bail Jamie Stef Martin Luke Tapscott Out Mitch Clark (foot) Aaron Davey (hamstring) Mark Jamar (calf) Nathan Jones (calf) THE GIFT OF THE GABBA A fine and sunny day awaits the Melbourne Football Club for its visit to Brisbane. Blue skies and 21 degrees Celsius sounds mighty inviting. If only I had the moolah to part with in my bank account instead of a close to maxed out Visacard, I would be up there in a flash on some heavily discounted Tiger Airway flight staying at that el cheapo motel that accommodated half of the Demons' football department when they went headhunting Mitch Clark last October. That would have been the best $39.00 spend in the club's history until Wednesday of this week when the surgeon presented it with a $23,000.00 bill for his Lisfranc (midfoot) operation. Which brings me back to my preview of Sunday's game at the Gabba because Mitch Clark's injury has revolutionised my thinking about the result. That and the fact that the Lions have discovered a rich vein of form and my relatives up there are even mentioning the "F" word (meaning "finals" in case you're wondering). Yes, a win to the Lions would put them on six wins and level with Carlton whose supporters still talk in hushed terms of not only making the finals but of winning the flag. In this game, both teams on the up and up and both have recently beaten genuine premiership contenders rather than sham ones like Carlton. Brisbane’s form against West Coast certainly shocked the football world but it’s follow up victory against the Western Bulldogs at Etihad certainly made them sit up. They have few injuries and their midfield of Black, Rich, Redden and Rockliff was good enough to destroy Melbourne back in March and continues to be its dominant line, so that is the department where the Demons need to improve if they are to win. Melbourne’s midfield stocks have also improved. Not so much in the terms of its personnel but more in its intensity and its work rate, which was virtually nonexistent after half time when the teams last met. I recall on that occasion, even without Jonathan Brown in the line up, the Lions were able to capitalise on their midfield dominance to score with regularity throughout the game. This time, with Brown and with at least one of the defenders having to drop forward to fill in for the loss of Clark and the continuing absence of Liam Jurrah, I expect Brisbane to just get home. Brisbane by 3 points. And for those who are going to the game, this special treat - 3 Things You Should Know For Your Great Gabba Getaway – Press Release
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