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Found 10 results

  1. A little more than two months have passed since Melbourne met and came close to beating the reigning premier West Coast in the preliminary final replay over in the West. At the time, the Demons had three wins on the board and now, nine rounds later and going into this week’s match, they have managed to add a paltry two more wins to the ledger. The Eagles, in contrast, have moved to within percentage of second spot on the ladder despite their loss at home this week against Collingwood. While the news is their main ruckman in Nic Natanui has been put on ice for an indefinite period, they will still go into the match with only six men on their injury list, most of who wouldn’t be first 22 selections. A loss in this match will almost certainly see the Blues leap-frog the Demons on the ladder, since Carlton is playing the hapless Gold Coast Suns at Marvel Stadium on Saturday and these days, that’s a given win. A fully fit West Coast Eagles v an injury ravaged Melbourne? The Demons can’t even rely on the old Roman term “decimated” since that means 1 in 10. As it stands, close to a third of their list is unavailable. Trecimated? The team has certainly been given a scalping in terms of personnel available. A comparison of the injury list, then and now - Round 9 Jake Lever (knee) – test OK now Round 9 Jordan Lewis (ankle) –test OK now Round 9 Corey Maynard (hip) – test OK but just a few VFL appearances to his name since Round 9 Charlie Spargo (foot) – test has played but not selected for Casey last week Round 9 Sam Weideman (hip) – test OK from that but back on the list with a calf injury Round 9 Mitch Hannan (knee) – 1 week OK now but struggled since returning Round 9 Jay Kennedy Harris (knee) – 1 week OK now but has been a regular at Casey Round 9 Michael Hibberd (collarbone) – 2 weeks OK now Round 9 Steven May (groin) – 2-3 weeks OK now Round 9 Jake Melksham (foot) – 4-5 weeks has been sitting at around that number ever since until this week when it finally dropped down to 3-4 weeks Round 9 Joel Smith (groin) – the 4-6 week curse out for the season now Round 9 Round 9 Kade Kolodjashnij (concussion) – TBA keep watching this space Round 9 Aaron vandenBerg (foot) – TBA keep watching this space Round 9 Neville Jetta (knee) – 8-10 weeks OK now but a little rusty Round 9 Guy Walker (shoulder) – indefinite remains indefinite Round 9 Aaron Nietschke (knee) – season remains season Since Round 9, it’s been a movable feast but as it stands, we can add the players in bold to achieve the Injury List: Round 18 Tim Smith (calf) – test Sam Weideman (calf) – test Marty Hore (collarbone) – 2-3 weeks Billy Stretch (foot) – 3-4 weeks Jake Melksham (foot) – 3-4 weeks Tom Sparrow (knee) – 3-4 weeks Tom McDonald (knee) – TBC Kade Kolodjashnij (head) – TBC Aaron vandenBerg (foot) – TBC Jeff Garlett (shoulder) – season Joel Smith (groin) – season Aaron Nietschke (knee) – season Guy Walker (shoulder) – indefinite It wasn’t long ago that the team’s back line was completely trecimated (or worse) but now it’s spread to the team’s attack with three key position forwards on that list all out last week against the Doggies. At their last meeting, the Demons were seemingly in control a few minutes before the final break but we now know that they kicked themselves out of victory with a final score of 9 goals 15 behinds. Jeff Garlett contributed 3 of those goals, but he is out for the season now, likewise Tom McDonald and Tim Smith is somewhere, but not playing football not long after kicking a career best 3.3 against the Dockers (T Mac also scored three goals that day). This necessitated the playing of defender Harrison Petty at full forward in his seventh league game (and first up forward). He acquitted himself well against the Bulldogs with three goal and might get some assistance from the resting ruckmen who are also, of necessity because there’s no choice, being used together in the same game. Melbourne have gone from a side that can’t kick straight to a side that can’t kick much! Let’s not forget that this is an Eagles side that has the likes of Hurn, McGovern, Masten and Barrass in their backline. Poor Petty was thrown to the wolves in his first game against the Saints, trying to hold back the big bodies of Bruce and Membrey. What nightmare awaits the kid this week? The game itself is in Alice Springs, which brings the promise of the warmer climate. Traeger Park is a beautiful site with the green of the ground contrasting to the red of the nearby desert and McDonnell Ranges. Given the forecast weather in Melbourne this coming week, the players will welcome this short trip north-west. But the game is all about the football. West Coast were premiers last season for very good reasons. They have a highly talented list with experienced big bodies across every line, a relentless attitude from their long club history of success and they will be seething after their close loss to the Magpies on Friday night. At least they can’t count on their parochial crowd who have influenced umpiring decisions for years. And surely, they can’t count on two of their own locals in Margetts and Dalgleish to have the umpiring responsibilities like the last time these two teams met? Melbourne should and will be competitive in the middle of the ground. More so with Gawn and Preuss now able to show the advantages of the double ruck combination. Without Natanui, West Coast is relying on a below par Hickey in the ruck as Vardy is still not available. Despite their far different ladder positions, the Demons lead in contested possessions and disposals over the season and are well ahead in the the inside 50 count. The Melbourne backline has finally got some certainty with Lever and Jetta returning last week after long lay-offs, adding to the strength provided by May and Hibberd. They, together with Salem and Frost, should account for the twin towers of Darling and Kennedy with Kennedy unable to get his hands on the ball for a couple of weeks now. But it’s up forward where the trecimation will hurt as the Demons will definitely struggle, against that formidable WCE backline and it’s hard to see Melbourne able to kick a winning or even a reasonable score (how things have changed since their last visit to the Red Centre when they trecimated the Crows last year!). West Coast in a low scoring match by 25 points. THE GAME Melbourne v West Coast v at TIO Traeger Park, Alice Springs Sunday 21 July 2019 at 3:20pm. HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 17 wins West Coast 35 wins At TIO Traeger Park Melbourne 0 wins West Coast 0 wins Past five meetings Melbourne 2 wins West Coast 3 wins The Coaches Goodwin 2 wins Simpson 2 wins MEDIA TV - Channel 7, Fox Sports 3 Live at 3:00pm RADIO - TBA THE LAST TIME THEY MET West Coast 13.7.85 defeated Melbourne 9.15.67 defeated Melbourne in Round 9, 2018 at Optus Stadium A routinely inaccurate Melbourne led at every change and the lead had been out to as much as 19 points when Jeff Garlett booted his third just before the three quarter time break. The Demons were made to pay for their earlier inaccuracy and the Eagles got all the breaks as they piled on 6.1 to 1.3 in the final term. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B Jake Lever Steven May Neville Jetta HB Harrison Petty Sam Frost Michael Hibberd C Jayden Hunt James Harmes Nathan Jones HF Jordan Lewis Christian Petracca Bayley Fritsch F Clayton Oliver Braydon Preuss Christian Salem FOLL Max Gawn Jack Viney Angus Brayshaw I/C Jay Lockhart Alex Neal-Bullen Corey Wagner Josh Wagner EMG Oskar Baker Kyle Dunkley Mitch Hannan Tim Smith IN Corey Wagner Josh Wagner OUT Kyle Dunkley (omitted) Mitch Hannan (omitted) WEST COAST EAGLES B Shannon Hurn Tom Barrass Brad Sheppard HB Lewis Jetta Jeremy McGovern Tom Cole C Andrew Gaff Elliot Yeo Chris Masten HF Jarrod Cameron Jack Darling Willie Rioli F Liam Ryan Josh Kennedy Oscar Allen FOLL Tom Hickey Jack Redden Luke ShueyI/C Jackson Nelson Jack Petruccelle Dom Sheed Jake Waterman EMG Matthew Allen Will Schofield Francis Watson Bailey Williams IN Jack Petruccelle Jake Waterman OUT Jamie Cripps (adductor) Nic Naitanui (ankle)
  2. JESSE WHO? by The Oracle The news that Jesse Hogan is out of contention to play with the Demons until 2019 after suffering a foot injury during their nine-point loss to the Swans at the MCG last Sunday might have sent feelings of shock and aware through the community of Demon supporters but I’m not overly concerned about the fact that the club’s key forward will be sidelined for the rest of the season. The reason why is that Melbourne seems to produce its best wins without Hogan in the team. There were the big breakthrough wins over Geelong and Hawthorn in 2015 and 2016 respectively and last year, it overcame top eight clubs Adelaide and the West Coast Eagles, both times away from home. That is not to say that the team won’t feel the loss of its leading goal kicker of the season but the impact of his absence does not necessarily portend the doom and gloom that some of the pundits are predicting. Last week against the Sydney Swans, Hogan played with his injury for at least three quarters. As early as in the second quarter, he was visibly limping and in hindsight, the team performance might have benefited from him being declared injured and not to return to the playing field. Given that he was clearly unable to perform at his best, this might well have made the difference in a game where the Demons’ inability to find the goals played a significant role in their failure to bring home the four points. The fundamental fact remains that the club leads the competition in contested possessions and centre clearances which have contributed to it also leading the way in inside 50s, marks inside 50 and scoring. Melbourne has also performed better away from the MCG this year than it has done at home and, whilst it has its injury woes, so does West Coast which barely managed the win last week against a tiring Port Adelaide that finished the game off with barely a whimper. This game is evenly poised and the absence of a key forward on either side is not going to make the difference. THE GAME West Coast v Melbourne at Optus Stadium Saturday 19 August 2018 at 3.20pm. HEAD TO HEAD Overall West Coast 33 wins Melbourne 16 wins At Domain Stadium West Coast 15 wins Melbourne 6 wins Past five meetings West Coast 4 wins Melbourne 1 win The Coaches Simpson 0 wins Goodwin 1 win MEDIA TV - Channel 7, Fox Sports 3, Live at 3.00pm RADIO - Triple M 3AW ABC ABC Grandstand THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 15.9.99 defeated West Coast 14.12.96 in Round 14, 2017 at Domain Stadium In a tense, close game Melbourne looked gone midway through the last quarter but it launched a successful come back and capped it off with an unlikely victory thanks to Tom McDonald’s goal square gymnastics. His five-goals for the night helped break a nine-game losing streak against the Eagles. THE TEAMS WEST COAST EAGLES B: Shannon Hurn, Tom Barrass, Brad Sheppard HB: Thomas Cole, Jeremy McGovern, Lewis Jetta 😄 Chris Masten, Elliot Yeo, Jamie Cripps HF: Mark Hutchings, Jack Darling, Mark LeCras F: Willie Rioli, Nathan Vardy, Brendon Ah Chee Foll: Scott Lycett, Jack Redden, Luke Shuey I/C: Liam Duggan, Liam Ryan, Dom Sheed, Daniel Venables Emg: Matthew Allen, Jackson Nelson, Francis Watson, Jake Waterman No change MELBOURNE B: Neville Jetta, Oscar McDonald, Jordan Lewis HB: Christian Salem, Sam Frost, James Harmes 😄 Alex Neal-Bullen, Clayton Oliver, Angus Brayshaw HF: Charlie Spargo, Sam Weideman, Aaron vandenBerg F: Michael Hibberd, Tom McDonald, Dom Tyson Foll: Max Gawn, Nathan Jones, Christian Petracca I/C: Bayley Fritsch, Mitch Hannan, Dean Kent, Jake Melksham Emg: Jeff Garlett, Jay Kennedy Harris, Cameron Pedersen, Josh Wagner In: Mitch Hannan, Michael Hibberd, Dean Kent, Jake Melksham, Sam Weideman Out: Jeff Garlett (omitted), Jesse Hogan (foot), Jayden Hunt (ankle), Jay Kennedy Harris (omitted), Cameron Pedersen (omitted) The moment of truth is about to arrive for the Melbourne Football Club. There has been a cloud hanging over the heads of its players and coaching group for almost twelve months since its last gasp elimination from last year’s AFL finals series after it capitulated meekly to Collingwood in the first quarter of the last round of the season. Ironically, it was the West Coast Eagles that “stole” Melbourne’s place in the finals with their 29-point win over Adelaide in Perth delivering them a narrow lead on percentage over the Demons. This week’s game will be played on a different arena in the same city but for fans of the club it looks as yet another installment in their recurring nightmare. The Eagles would appear to have the upper hand given that they have home ground advantage and the statistical abnormality of the “noise of affirmation” from the umpires which demonstrates that they have what amounts to a one player advantage whenever they play in their state. Against that is the fact that they are missing some of their top line stars in Nic Naitanui, Josh Kennedy and Andrew Gaff. Some say that those players make up three of their best five players - I maintain they’re actually three of their best three (their best four if you count the noise of affirmation as a player). Many commentators say that the fact that they are still second on the AFL ladder proves that the Eagles have the resilience and the ability to defy the odds. The argument goes on to describe as a case in point, the way the Eagles produced a monumental win at their last start against the Power when Jeremy McGovern scored after the final siren to put his side ahead for the first time. My take on that game is that it was always there to be won against a hobbled opposition that ran out of steam because of injury and an inability to rest and rotate players in the final term. It could be said that the Demons messed up a similar opportunity against the Swans last week but for their wastefulness, but they also had their problems with injury - Jesse Hogan was limping around as early as the second quarter, Jayden Hunt went off with an ankle and Angus Brayshaw and Neville Jetta missed valuable time getting treatment for ailments during the game, the latter who was dominant in the first quarter with 10 possessions, was off in that patch when the Swans booted about four goals and retook the momentum of the game in the second quarter. The Demons also have three of their top five players out this week as well with the the absence of Jack Viney, Jake Lever and Hogan. So who really does have the upper hand? I think it’s Melbourne which still has the best ruckman, the stronger midfield as proven by its record over the year at clearances, and the recast side particularly with the return of Michael Hibberd and Jake Melksham to add to the team’s solidity, puts it ahead of the Eagles who will sorely miss their trio of outs far more than the Demons will miss theirs. Their good record in the absence of Hogan is what swings the ultimate result for me. Melbourne by 7 points.
  3. HEARTLAND by Whispering Jack The Melbourne roller coaster moves to the Top End this week and I have a feeling this could reignite the debate that has been raging on and off among supporters for more than a decade about the financial necessity of selling home matches to venues outside of the home state. We are all painfully aware of the connection between financial stability and on field success, of how this combination can work to perpetuate the strength of a football club and conversely, of how failure in this area can bring long term grief such as that which the Melbourne Football Club has endured since it last featured in finals calculations. Lucrative sponsorships are hard to find and the funds coming in from the club's current partnership with the Northern Territory government no doubt help to balance the books but, as the club moves into the phase where it becomes competitive against the other clubs, the question needs to be asked. Should it be necessary for the club to sell off home ground advantage to play in far flung venues in front of small crowds far away from its supporter base? The Demons are in a vastly different position to the Hawks who have managed to turn Launceston's Aurora Stadium into a fortress at which they are rarely beaten. This has never been the case in relation to Melbourne's endeavours not only in Darwin Alice Springs and also before that, in Brisbane and Canberra. This week, the team comes up against the West Coast Eagles who admittedly have owned Melbourne, even at the MCG for much of living memory. Their rapid improvement in 2015 despite the loss of a couple of key defenders through injury, means they will relish the opportunity to take on a Victorian team on neutral soil at TIO Stadium in Darwin. Meanwhile, Demon fans who have been basking in the glory of that win at the Cattery almost a fortnight ago, as if a single good performance is a reflection of total resurrection (some are even calculating the mathematical possibility of how far into the top eight the team can finish), will miss the opportunity of cheering on their heroes in person after a big win. That happened last when Melbourne took on Port Adelaide in Alice Springs the week after their 39-point victory over the Bulldogs. It was seen as the perfect opportunity to win consecutive games for the first time in four years and the Dees were well on their way when they led by four goals halfway through the second quarter. Given Port's lapses against Carlton at the MCG and their poor recent form in Victoria, one wonders whether the result would have been the same had that game been played in Victoria rather than in the centre of the continent? Still, the game against West Coast on Saturday night presents the club and its players with a fascinating challenge and pushes the team into the limelight with a game against one of the premiership contenders. If it can prove that the performance against Geelong was indeed not an aberration and produces the goods again, then it might in the near future, win some of those appealing prime time Friday night fixtures which might help bring in the revenue and procure additional sponsorships that would make it unnecessary for the club to sell its soul and move games away from its supporters and it's heartland. THE GAME Melbourne v West Coast v Melbourne at TIO Stadium, Darwin Saturday 4 July, 2015 at 7.40pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 15 wins West Coast 31 wins At TIO Stadium Melbourne 0 wins West Coast 0 wins Past five meetings Melbourne 0 wins West Coast 5 wins The Coaches Roos 0 wins Simpson 2 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Sports Channel 3 at 7.30pm (live) RADIO - SEN, ABC, ABC Grandstand THE BETTING Melbourne to win - $4.30 West Coast to win - $1.23 THE LAST TIME THEY MET West Coast 18.11.119 defeated Melbourne 8.5.53 Round 22, 2014 at Patersons Stadium The Demons were never in the hunt after the Eagles booted 6 goals to 1 in the opening term. The teams went through the motions for another three quarters. Apart from some resistance from Bernie Vince and Dom Tyson, it was typical of a team for which the season's death knell had long ago sounded. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B: Neville Jetta, Tom McDonald, Colin Garland HB: Daniel Cross, Lynden Dunn, Jimmy Toumpas C: Rohan Bail, Jack Viney, Jack Watts HF: Jeff Garlett, Chris Dawes, Jeremy Howe F: Angus Brayshaw, Jesse Hogan, Jake Spencer FOLL: Max Gawn, Bernie Vince, Nathan Jones I/C: Matt Jones, Alex Neal-Bullen, Billy Stretch, Dom Tyson EMG: Jack Fitzpatrick, Jay Kennedy-Harris, Aidan Riley IN: Colin Garland, Jesse Hogan OUT: Heritier Lumumba (foot), Aidan Riley (omitted) WEST COAST EAGLES B: Shannon Hurn, Will Schofield, Brad Sheppard HB: Sam Butler, Jeremy McGovern, Sharrod Wellingham C: Elliot Yeo, Matt Priddis, Andrew Gaff HF: Chris Masten, Jack Darling, Jamie Cripps F: Mark Le Cras, Josh Kennedy, Josh Hill FOLL: Nick Naitanui, Scott Selwood, Luke Shuey I/C: Liam Duggan, Xavier Ellis, Dom Sheed, Callum Sinclair EMG: Mark Hutchings, Fraser McInnes, Matt Rosa IN: Sam Butler OUT: Matt Rosa (omitted) WISH I HAD A RIVER 3.7.15 "Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. I wish I had a river so long, I would teach my feet to fly." ~ River by Joni Mitchell A couple of days ago I read that singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell was recovering from a brain aneurysm she suffered in March. I was relieved to read that Mitchell can now speak, is going through therapy to help regain the ability to walk again and is expected to make a full recovery. That night, the words and the tune from "River" came to haunt me. The song is about loss, about pain and regret. In this song it's about the loss of a friend, not from bereavement but from the breakdown of a love affair. Regret for things that that might not have been said or done between people in relationships. Regret because things can never be the same again. It's been a rough week for the world at large. People have died in many places as a result of violence on such a massive scale that the scandals we read of here about young footballers taking social drugs have been overshadowed by the troubles across the globe. News that a prominent player is suffering from a cancer skated across our television screens and numbed us, but only momentarily. We moved on. Then this morning, came the terrible news about the death of Phil Walsh of the Adelaide Crows. There is nothing to say that can bring him back. There may be regrets but for one family and all those he touched, nothing will be the same again. The pain will linger forever. Suddenly, it doesn't matter that there's a game in Darwin or anywhere else for that matter. I wish I had a river I could skate away on.
  4. The Melbourne roller coaster moves to the Top End this week and I have a feeling this could reignite the debate that has been raging on and off among supporters for more than a decade about the financial necessity of selling home matches to venues outside of the home state. We are all painfully aware of the connection between financial stability and on field success, of how this combination can work to perpetuate the strength of a football club and conversely, of how failure in this area can bring long term grief such as that which the Melbourne Football Club has endured since it last featured in finals calculations. Lucrative sponsorships are hard to find and the funds coming in from the club's current partnership with the Northern Territory government no doubt help to balance the books but, as the club moves into the phase where it becomes competitive against the other clubs, the question needs to be asked. Should it be necessary for the club to sell off home ground advantage to play in far flung venues in front of small crowds far away from its supporter base? The Demons are in a vastly different position to the Hawks who have managed to turn Launceston's Aurora Stadium into a fortress at which they are rarely beaten. This has never been the case in relation to Melbourne's endeavours not only in Darwin Alice Springs and also before that, in Brisbane and Canberra. This week, the team comes up against the West Coast Eagles who admittedly have owned Melbourne, even at the MCG for much of living memory. Their rapid improvement in 2015 despite the loss of a couple of key defenders through injury, means they will relish the opportunity to take on a Victorian team on neutral soil at TIO Stadium in Darwin. Meanwhile, Demon fans who have been basking in the glory of that win at the Cattery almost a fortnight ago, as if a single good performance is a reflection of total resurrection (some are even calculating the mathematical possibility of how far into the top eight the team can finish), will miss the opportunity of cheering on their heroes in person after a big win. That happened last when Melbourne took on Port Adelaide in Alice Springs the week after their 39-point victory over the Bulldogs. It was seen as the perfect opportunity to win consecutive games for the first time in four years and the Dees were well on their way when they led by four goals halfway through the second quarter. Given Port's lapses against Carlton at the MCG and their poor recent form in Victoria, one wonders whether the result would have been the same had that game been played in Victoria rather than in the centre of the continent? Still, the game against West Coast on Saturday night presents the club and its players with a fascinating challenge and pushes the team into the limelight with a game against one of the premiership contenders. If it can prove that the performance against Geelong was indeed not an aberration and produces the goods again, then it might in the near future, win some of those appealing prime time Friday night fixtures which might help bring in the revenue and procure additional sponsorships that would make it unnecessary for the club to sell its soul and move games away from its supporters and it's heartland. THE GAME Melbourne v West Coast v Melbourne at TIO Stadium, Darwin Saturday 4 July, 2015 at 7.40pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 15 wins West Coast 31 wins At TIO Stadium Melbourne 0 wins West Coast 0 wins Past five meetings Melbourne 0 wins West Coast 5 wins The Coaches Roos 0 wins Simpson 2 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Sports Channel 3 at 7.30pm (live) RADIO - SEN, ABC, ABC Grandstand THE BETTING Melbourne to win - $4.30 West Coast to win - $1.23 THE LAST TIME THEY MET West Coast 18.11.119 defeated Melbourne 8.5.53 Round 22, 2014 at Patersons Stadium The Demons were never in the hunt after the Eagles booted 6 goals to 1 in the opening term. The teams went through the motions for another three quarters. Apart from some resistance from Bernie Vince and Dom Tyson, it was typical of a team for which the season's death knell had long ago sounded. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B: Neville Jetta, Tom McDonald, Colin Garland HB: Daniel Cross, Lynden Dunn, Jimmy Toumpas C: Rohan Bail, Jack Viney, Jack Watts HF: Jeff Garlett, Chris Dawes, Jeremy Howe F: Angus Brayshaw, Jesse Hogan, Jake Spencer FOLL: Max Gawn, Bernie Vince, Nathan Jones I/C: Matt Jones, Alex Neal-Bullen, Billy Stretch, Dom Tyson EMG: Jack Fitzpatrick, Jay Kennedy-Harris, Aidan Riley IN: Colin Garland, Jesse Hogan OUT: Heritier Lumumba (foot), Aidan Riley (omitted) WEST COAST EAGLES B: Shannon Hurn, Will Schofield, Brad Sheppard HB: Sam Butler, Jeremy McGovern, Sharrod Wellingham C: Elliot Yeo, Matt Priddis, Andrew Gaff HF: Chris Masten, Jack Darling, Jamie Cripps F: Mark Le Cras, Josh Kennedy, Josh Hill FOLL: Nick Naitanui, Scott Selwood, Luke Shuey I/C: Liam Duggan, Xavier Ellis, Dom Sheed, Callum Sinclair EMG: Mark Hutchings, Fraser McInnes, Matt Rosa IN: Sam Butler OUT: Matt Rosa (omitted) WISH I HAD A RIVER 3.7.15 "Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. I wish I had a river so long, I would teach my feet to fly." ~ River by Joni Mitchell A couple of days ago I read that singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell was recovering from a brain aneurysm she suffered in March. I was relieved to read that Mitchell can now speak, is going through therapy to help regain the ability to walk again and is expected to make a full recovery. That night, the words and the tune from "River" came to haunt me. The song is about loss, about pain and regret. In this song it's about the loss of a friend, not from bereavement but from the breakdown of a love affair. Regret for things that that might not have been said or done between people in relationships. Regret because things can never be the same again. It's been a rough week for the world at large. People have died in many places as a result of violence on such a massive scale that the scandals we read of here about young footballers taking social drugs have been overshadowed by the troubles across the globe. News that a prominent player is suffering from a cancer skated across our television screens and numbed us, but only momentarily. We moved on. Then this morning, came the terrible news about the death of Phil Walsh of the Adelaide Crows. There is nothing to say that can bring him back. There may be regrets but for one family and all those he touched, nothing will be the same again. The pain will linger forever. Suddenly, it doesn't matter that there's a game in Darwin or anywhere else for that matter. I wish I had a river I could skate away on.
  5. LAST TIME THEY MET Who could ever remember this game from Round 22 of last year? I tried to think - but it was one which has been erased completely from the memory banks. How on earth is that possible? THE TEAMS WEST COAST B: Jeremy McGovern, Eric Mackenzie, Jamie Bennell HB: Shannon Hurn, Mitchell Brown, Will Schofield C: Patrick McGinnity, Matt Priddis, Andrew Gaff HF: Jamie Cripps, Josh Kennedy, Chris Masten F: Nic Naitanui, Jack Darling, Josh Hill FOLL: Dean Cox, Mark Hutchings, Luke Shuey I/C: Sam Butler, Mark LeCras, Scott Lycett, Dominic Sheed EMG: Jacob Brennan, Adam Carter, Brant Colledge IN: Mark Le Cras OUT: Simon Tunbridge (omitted) MELBOURNE B: Lynden Dunn, James Frawley, Colin Garland HB: Neville Jetta, Tom McDonald, Jeremy Howe C: Matt Jones, Jack Viney, Daniel Cross HF: Bernie Vince, Cameron Pedersen, Jack Watts F: Max Gawn, Chris Dawes, Jack Fitzpatrick FOLL: Mark Jamar Nathan Jones Dom Tyson I/C: Rohan Bail, Dean Kent, Viv Michie, Christian Salem EMG: Dom Barry, Jordie McKenzie, Aidan Riley IN: Rohan Bail, Jack Fitzpatrick, Cameron Pedersen OUT: Dom Barry (omitted), Jack Grimes (hamstring), Aidan Riley (omitted)
  6. The result of the game was pretty much expected after the coach spent the week explaining that his team was going to school and it would help if they did away with the scoreboard. The boys lived up to the coach's expectations playing like a year 10 remedial class against a collection of university graduates preparing to collect their PhD's - it was that much of a mismatch and, despite the coach's wishes it was nowhere more evident than on the ... ahem ... scoreboard. Melbourne was destroyed in the ruck duels by what is possibly the best ruck combination in the competition but then what would you expect when you're putting up possibly your fourth and fifth best big men and your upper echelon of talls are languishing in the infirmary? And once you're getting killed by the opposition out of the ruck, the next step is that you're getting slaughtered in the midfield and at the stoppages (not a single centre clearance in the first quarter) and before you can say Jay Kennedy-Harris, you're ten goals down at half time and the game has been well and truly lost. It was not all bad though because somehow, Melbourne finished with more disposals which means that the Demons were inefficient and wasteful and, as has been the case of late, unable to convert possession into score but at least they're getting their hands on the footy. No doubt, having a power forward or two on board would help but when a midfielder gets the ball and looks forward only to see a dwarf calling for the ball opposed to two decent sized defenders then ... well, um, you're going to hesitate and perhaps take the wrong option and turn the ball over and more than likely you'll end up kicking no more than an average of one goal per quarter. Come to think of it, that's exactly what happened. Still, it's no mean feat to finish with a possession count such as this in a 15 goal defeat (has that ever happened before?) whereas twelve months ago the different was -67. The reason is that the club has some better inside players in the midfield but is still are missing outside run and a forward line. Nathan Jones is getting better. Tyson, Vince and Cross have added to the midfield depth but they have no targets up forward, nor will they have them for the foreseeable future so the whole team will continue to be disfunctional until the Paul Roos broom cleans up the house. And that will definitely take time. Melbourne 0.1.1 1.3.9 2.4.16 4.6.30 West Coast 6.5.41 10.7.67 14.10.94 18.15.123 Goals Melbourne Byrnes 2 Kennedy-Harris Toumpas West Coast Kennedy 4 Darling 3 Le Cras Masten Shuey 2 Cripps Mackenzie Naitanui Sinclair Best N Jones Tyson Dunn Cross Toumpas Byrnes West Coast Kennedy Shuey Gaff Masten Priddis Cox Changes Melbourne Nil West Coast Nil Injuries Melbourne Michie (cut eye) West Coast Hurn (knee) Reports Melbourne Nil West Coast Nil UmpiresChris Donlon Sam Hay Shane McInerney Attendance 22,226 at the MCG.
  7. A lot of water's flowed under the bridge since Melbourne last appeared at the home of football in round 21 on Sunday, 18 August, 2013 when we took on a different side from Western Australia, the Dockers. We kicked 5.8.38 and lost by 95 points. Our last goal at the MCG was kicked that day by Jeremy Howe at the midpoint of the third quarter. Our last win at the ground (or anywhere else if you exclude the NAB Challenge) was on 29 June, 2013 when we beat the Western Bulldogs by 3 points. It's been a long time in between drinks.
  8. THE DARK SIDE OF THE ROAD by Whispering Jack The lot of a Melbourne supporter in the twenty-first century is difficult and harsh. We do it tough year by year as the fickle finger of fate finds new afflictions to endure. Take the year to date and last week's opening round game against St. Kilda in particular. The Saints have lost three or four of their most talented midfielders and the best of what remains of that division in David Armitage is well held by Bulldog recruit Daniel Cross (an underrated performance if there ever was one). Other newcomers to the club's midfield, Bernie Vince and Dom Tyson come into the side and immediately have an impact, Nathan Jones is as prolific as ever and Jack Watts plays what many have describe as his best game ever, mainly on the wing. The last four mentioned players all pick up at least 27 touches and are joined on that number by Jack Grimes. The club wins most of the statistical counts with the exception of free kicks and the all important one on the scoreboard. So what went wrong? Well, it doesn't help when you kick 10 consecutive behinds. And it doesn't help that you've been forced by concussion to bring on your substitute (changing on of your tallest players for the smallest), your key defender suffers a corkie cutting short his role of quelling the opposition's leader and most dangerous player opening up the possibility of a match winning three goal haul and best on ground performance. Meanwhile, at the other end of the ground ... Melbourne's own forward line ... well, um, let's just say there is no other ground. Just a Southern Hemisphere Bermuda Triangle containing the bulk of Melbourne's forward line and tall ruck strength, the problem is that they're not really out there in person and, like the immortal Clancy in Banjo Patterson's epic poem, we don't know where they are. No wonder the coach wants to do consign the scoreboard to the Bermuda Triangle where it can familiarise itself with those who would normally contribute to the score. After all, who needs a scoreboard when you can't even trouble the scorer? So, having lost to a team that rivals them for the title of the worst in the AFL, the Demons face stiffer competition on Sunday at twilight. I've heard it said that the fans of the West Coast Eagles are already queueing up for grand final tickets for this September in the wake of their big win over the media's love child, the Western Bulldogs whose game was putrid last week but somehow, they managed to attract little criticism for their first round fiasco. You can let them get carried away as far as I'm concerned. Melbourne is coming, ever so slowly and imperceptibly but it should've done better (read "finished ahead on the scoreboard") despite the missing tall forwards and ruckmen and a solid defender in Col Garland. Unfortunately, there are likely to be more entries into the Triangle this week including the 195cm Jack Watts who is poised to be this week's mystery injury of the week. Mind you, the Eagles have not been entirely comfortable in their recent history at the home of football. Apart from two wins against the Dees, they have won only once at the MCG since they won the 2006 premiership. Still, with all that's happened in the past month to Paul Roos' charges, I can't see much light at the end of the Demon tunnel - especially as they're definitely walking in the dark side of the road at the moment.
  9. The lot of a Melbourne supporter in the twenty-first century is difficult and harsh. We do it tough year by year as the fickle finger of fate finds new afflictions to endure. Take the year to date and last week's opening round game against St. Kilda in particular. The Saints have lost three or four of their most talented midfielders and the best of what remains of that division in David Armitage is well held by Bulldog recruit Daniel Cross (an underrated performance if there ever was one). Other newcomers to the club's midfield, Bernie Vince and Dom Tyson come into the side and immediately have an impact, Nathan Jones is as prolific as ever and Jack Watts plays what many have describe as his best game ever, mainly on the wing. The last four mentioned players all pick up at least 27 touches and are joined on that number by Jack Grimes. The club wins most of the statistical counts with the exception of free kicks and the all important one on the scoreboard. So what went wrong? Well, it doesn't help when you kick 10 consecutive behinds. And it doesn't help that you've been forced by concussion to bring on your substitute (changing on of your tallest players for the smallest), your key defender suffers a corkie cutting short his role of quelling the opposition's leader and most dangerous player opening up the possibility of a match winning three goal haul and best on ground performance. Meanwhile, at the other end of the ground ... Melbourne's own forward line ... well, um, let's just say there is no other ground. Just a Southern Hemisphere Bermuda Triangle containing the bulk of Melbourne's forward line and tall ruck strength, the problem is that they're not really out there in person and, like the immortal Clancy in Banjo Patterson's epic poem, we don't know where they are. No wonder the coach wants to do consign the scoreboard to the Bermuda Triangle where it can familiarise itself with those who would normally contribute to the score. After all, who needs a scoreboard when you can't even trouble the scorer? So, having lost to a team that rivals them for the title of the worst in the AFL, the Demons face stiffer competition on Sunday at twilight. I've heard it said that the fans of the West Coast Eagles are already queueing up for grand final tickets for this September in the wake of their big win over the media's love child, the Western Bulldogs whose game was putrid last week but somehow, they managed to attract little criticism for their first round fiasco. You can let them get carried away as far as I'm concerned. Melbourne is coming, ever so slowly and imperceptibly but it should've done better (read "finished ahead on the scoreboard") despite the missing tall forwards and ruckmen and a solid defender in Col Garland. Unfortunately, there are likely to be more entries into the Triangle this week including the 195cm Jack Watts who is poised to be this week's mystery injury of the week. Mind you, the Eagles have not been entirely comfortable in their recent history at the home of football. Apart from two wins against the Dees, they have won only once at the MCG since they won the 2006 premiership. Still, with all that's happened in the past month to Paul Roos' charges, I can't see much light at the end of the Demon tunnel - especially as they're definitely walking in the dark side of the road at the moment. THE GAME Melbourne v at West Coast MCG Sunday 30 March, 2014 at 3.20 pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 15 wins West Coast 29 wins At MCG Melbourne 7 wins West Coast 8 wins Past five years Melbourne 2 wins West Coast 5 wins The Coaches Roos 0 wins Simpson 0 wins MEDIA TV - RADIO - THE BETTING Melbourne to win - $7.00 West Coast to win - $1.10 THE LAST TIME THEY MET West Coast 27.15.177 defeated Melbourne 13.5.83, Round 3, 2013 at the MCG A Melbourne team that was demoralised after two thrashings at the hands of Port Adelaide and Essendon in consecutive weeks made a good fist of things in the first half (they trailed by a mere ten points at the main break) but conceded 11.3 in the third term and went down in a screaming heap. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B: Lynden Dunn, James Frawley, Alex Georgiou HB: Jack Grimes, Tom McDonald, Dean Terlich C: Jack Trengove, Dom Tyson, Daniel Cross HF: Jack Watts, Cam Pedersen, Jimmy Toumpas F: Jeremy Howe, Jack Fitzpatrick, Rohan Bail FOLL: Jake Spencer, Nathan Jones, Bernie Vince I/C: Shannon Byrnes, Matt Jones, Jay Kennedy-Harris, Viv Michie EM: Sam Blease, Michael Evans, Dean Kent No change WEST COAST B: Jamie Bennell Darren Glass Mitch Brown HB: Shannon Hurn Eric Mackenzie Xavier Ellis C: Matt Rosa Matt Priddis Andrew Gaff HF: Jamie Cripps Josh Kennedy Chris Masten F: Mark LeCras Jack Darling Nic Naitanui FOLL: Dean Cox Scott Selwood Luke Shuey IC: Brad Sheppard, Callum Sinclair, Sharrod Wellingham, Elliot Yeo EM: Brant Colledge, Josh Hill, Scott Lycett In: Brad Sheppard Out: Dom Sheed SECOND THOUGHTS The old adage about winners being grinners was no better demonstrated than by St. Kilda in its win against Melbourne. The Saints and their supporters have spent the greater part of the week strutting around as if they dominated their opposition but truth be told, they should think a second time. Their team wasn't particularly all that flash; they lost the disposal count by 60 and trailed badly in the inside 50 count. The areas where they were big winners was in the free kick count and on a final scoreboard that reflected their greater efficiency in front of goal. This suggests that it was a game the Demons had for the keeping but we know they failed to capitalise on their more abundant opportunities in front of goal and were hampered by injuries incurred during the game which left them somewhat hobbled. The early subbing off of a concussed Jack Fitzpatrick was compounded by Tom McDonald's corkie which deteriorated as the game wore on leaving his opponent with the luxury of a free run to best on ground honours. This week, Melbourne takes an unchanged line up back to its home turf against a far more accomplished opponent - the Eagles outfit that demolished the Bulldogs last Sunday. The combination of Cox and Naitanui with the added tall man power of Callum Sinclair looks far too strong for Jake Spencer who only has Jack Fitzpatrick (if he plays) to back him up although Cam Petersen could fill in if things get desperate (actually, let's not kid ourselves, things already are desperate). After that the Dees must contend with a team which, on paper, demonstrates a superiority in virtually every part of the ground. This applies particularly in respect of the current main weakness - the decimated forward line against a class defence headed by Glass and McKenzie who are set for a field day. That in form Eagles half back line looks particularly ominous. Ironically, Melbourne is looking best served by its midfield which has undergone a massive boost through the off season recruiting campaign which brought Bernie Vince, Daniel Cross, Dom Tyson and Viv Michie into the ranks. The inclusion of Jack Watts into this part of the ground is, on early indications, proving a winner and then there is the continuing rise of the new skipper to the ranks of the elite. We shouldn't underestimate the recent elevation of Nathan Jones' game now that he has some better and more experienced players surrounding him in the midfield. His quality 38 possession game shows what the club had in this player over the past two seasons and his ascension into a share of the main leadership role is the icing on top. Jones could never have been expected to win a game off his own boot but there's now a chance with the current set up. It's a pity in the short term that there's so little back up in the ruck and the key forward positions. The indicators still point to an Eagle victory but if you go by history there is room for second thoughts. I remember an injury depleted Melbourne side travelling to Perth in the late 1990s that was given no hope of winning and turning it on against the odds to produce one of the club's most important victories of that era. More recently, in the equivalent round four years ago, the Demons came off a smashing in the season opener from Hawthorn to come within inches and a near mark in the MCG goalsquare in the dying seconds, of beating a Magpie team that would go on to win the flag that year. Many of us believe that Melbourne sunk itself last week because it failed to capitalise on its early ascendency over the Saints through poor kicking. It's a more difficult task but with the right attitude, the team can continue to demonstrate improvement and that's what I'm expecting. A win might be beyond them but if you believe the predictions of a massive loss of 2013 proportions is on the cards, I suggest you think twice. West Coast by 13 points.
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