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A DOZEN DEAD OCEANS by Whispering Jack


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Whispering Jack predicts that a twelve year hoodoo will fall by the wayside on Sunday ...
A DOZEN DEAD OCEANS by Whispering Jack
"Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
And where have you been my darling young one?
I've stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I've walked and I've crawled on six crooked highways
I've stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I've been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I've been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, and it's a hard
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall." - by 2016 Nobel Poet Laureate Bob Dylan (A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall)
In recent years, Melbourne has been smashing its hoodoos like dinner plates at a Greek restaurant leaving very few left for the club to break.
There's still North Melbourne and heaven knows whether we can cross Subiaco off the list before they shut that god forsaken place down forever, but there's imminent challenge looming close on the horizon that must be dealt with in the coming week - the curse of round two. This Sunday will mark the passing of twelve years since the Demons last won a match in the second round of an AFL season. 
It was exactly on 2 April, 2005 before a meagre crowd of 13,481 at the ground then known as the "Telstra Dome" that Melbourne 20.11.131 beat the Western Bulldogs 15.21.111. The Demons were travelling well in those days. They made a good start to the season, suffered a mid-season slump but recovered to make the finals as they had done the year before and would do in the year after. However, that game against the Doggies in 2005 was to be the last time, the team would salute in an AFL round two game and what's more, the majority of the defeats in between have been in the most humiliating of circumstances.
Another dismal round two flop against Carlton this Sunday would be the unkindest cut of them all.
The long run of second round outs began at the Docklands on 8 April, 2006 with a 47 point whipping at the hands of the Bulldogs. The Dees had already suffered a shock result to Carlton in the opening round and it lost again the following week but a long run of wins followed to see them safely into the finals. More second round debacles were to come:-
2007 - after the opening round disaster against St Kilda, Melbourne was confident of beating Hawthorn which had been a struggler in recent seasons. But the Hawks were on their way up and the Demons lowered their colours by 22 points to an opponent which was closing in on a premiership era. The Demons won their last game for the year - the infamous Kreuzer Cup - but by then, long-time coach Neale Daniher had already been given his marching orders and a caretaker coach has seen out the long death throes of an old era. The club was looking into the mouth of a graveyard.
2008 - Melbourne heralded in the Dean Bailey era with a 104 point defeat to the emerging Hawks but it did manage to stave off another 100 point plus losing margin when it lost by 95 points to the Western Bulldogs in another round two train crash. It took a while to get onto the winning list but that was done in style against Fremantle when the team stormed back from a massive deficit to win by a goal in round 7.
2009 - an anaemic Melbourne side lost in round 1 to North Melbourne and it was more of the same the following week when the Magpies 17.15.117 made mincemeat out of the Demons 10.4.64 before an MCG crowd of 43,176. Things were so bad that Nathan Jones' father was clocked on his way out of the ground by a an inebriated normal Collingwood fan celebrating his team's win. 
2010 - after copping a hiding in the season opener against the Hawks, the Demons faced the Pies again in their next up match over the Easter break. They were in sight of victory when Ricky Petterd's lunge for a mark in the goalsquare failed with seconds left in the game.
2011 - for once, Melbourne managed to stave off defeat in its opening game. However, it didn't exactly win either. In a dramatic finish, the round 1  game against the Sydney Swans ended as a draw - 11.18.84 each. Against the Hawks in round 2, the Demons held a 19 point lead at half time before they were strangled into submission in the third quarter by a hard press, eventually losing by 45 points. The club was on a roller coaster ride to disaster. The rain was about to fall hard.
If you think the foregoing was bad, prepare yourself for a horror story.
2012 - the early optimism of a new beginning under Mark Neeld had dissipated long before the Brisbane Lions crushed Melbourne by 41 points in the season opener. Jimmy Stynes had recently died and the club was beset by troubles but nobody was really prepared for what was to come at Subiaco Oval in week 2. On Saturday, 7 April, the West Coast Eagles inflicted a 25.16.166 to 9.4.58 flogging on Neeld's charges before a crowd of 35,674 but even that would pale against what happened in round 2 in the following season.
2013 - after a few seasons as AFL whipping boy, Port Adelaide made an impressive start to the season winning 19.19.133 to 8.6.54 over Melbourne at the MCG. At the same ground a week later and in the midst of the developing drug saga, Essendon was the host when it blasted Neeld's charges to the tune of 148 points - 28.16.184 to 5.6.36. The slaughter reverberated around the club and precipitated several changes at the top which saw the departures of the CEO, the chairman and ultimately the coach in the weeks and months to follow.
2014 - the arrival of Paul Roos at coach/saviour of the club didn't bring immediate joy on the playing field. The team lost its opening game to the Saints by 17 points thanks in part to their woeful kicking for goal, but the next match was another round 2 disaster - a 93 point loss to the West Coast Eagles before a crowd of only 22,230 at the MCG with the home team managing a meagre 4.6.30.
2015 - the club broke its opening round hoodoo against an injury riddled Gold Coast Suns and things were looking up at Star Trak Oval when the Demons led the Giants by 33 points in the shadows of half time before the round two curse took hold and the home side kicked 14 of the next 15 goals to win by 56 points.
And now for the steak knives.
2016 - after an exciting round 1 win by two points over the highly rated GWS Giants, Melbourne was expected to record a handsome victory over an Essendon team decimated by the CAS ruling which outed a dozen of their players for the season, leaving them with a rag tag bunch of youngsters and football mercenaries, many of who would otherwise have been playing in the VFL or local competitions in round 2. As always, the Demons approached the game on 2 April, 2016 as if they were millionaires and ended like beggars on a street corner in skid row. At the end of the day the MCG scoreboard read "Essendon 11.14.80 defeated Melbourne 10.7.67".
That score line still leaves me with dread in my heart 12 months later wondering how on earth is it possible that to avert the calamity of another round 2 that turns us all into April Fools even when opposition supporters believe that their team is too young, too inexperienced and not good enough to win?
I've found a way and will reveal all shortly.
Melbourne v Carlton at MCG Sunday 2nd April, 2017 at 3.20pm.
Overall  Melbourne 89 wins Carlton 117 wins Drawn 2
At MCG Melbourne 49 wins Carlton 50 wins
Past five meetings Melbourne 1 win Carlton 4 wins
The Coaches Goodwin 0 Bolton 0 wins 
TV - Fox Sports 3, Channel 7 at 3.00pm
RADIO - Triple M 3AW 
Melbourne to win $1.22 - Carlton $4.40 to win - $4.40
Carlton 11.12.78 defeated Melbourne 7.16.58 at the MCG Round 22, 2016
The Demons were raging favourites to win at $1.24 and didn't fail to disappoint the fans and themselves with an insipid performance at a time when victory would have kept their finals hopes alive. They played like a young team that had run out steam and hit the wall - the same wall their supporters were banging their heads into at the end of the game.
B: Jayden Hunt, Oscar McDonald, Jake Melksham
HB: Neville Jetta, Tom McDonald, Nathan Jones
C: Christian Salem, Jordan Lewis, Billy Stretch
HF: Clayton Oliver, Sam Weideman, Jack Watts
F: Christian Petracca, Jesse Hogan, Jeff Garlett
FOLL: Max Gawn, Angus Brayshaw, Jack Viney
I/C: Mitch Hannan, James Harmes, Alex Neal-Bullen, Dom Tyson
EMG: Ben Kennedy, Dean Kent, Jake Spencer
IN: James Harmes, Ben Kennedy, Dom Tyson

OUT: Joel Smith (shoulder), Bernie Vince (suspended)

B: Jarrod Pickett, Caleb Marchbank, Lachie Plowman 
HB: Harrison Macreadie, Sam Rowe, Sam Docherty 
C: Matthew Wright, Bryce Gibbs, Kade Simpson 
HF: Jack Silvagni, Levi Casboult, Charlie Curnow 
F: Simon White, Jacob Weitering, Sam Petrevski-Seton 
FOLL:  Matthew Kreuzer, Patrick Cripps, Marc Murphy 
I/C: Dennis Armfield, Ed Curnow, Nick Graham, Sam Kerridge, Harry McKay,  Billie Smedts, Dale Thomas 
EMG: Nick Graham, Sam Kerridge, Harry McKay



Twelve months ago, I was enjoying a holiday break cruising the North China Sea somewhere between the tip of South Korea and the Chinese mainland. We left Australia a few days after Melbourne's barnstorming come-from-behind victory over GWS and all was well with the world notwithstanding the ominous proximity to mad Kim Jong-un's battery of missiles. Thousands of miles away to the south east, the Demons were about to take on the Bombers' B team. I was supremely confident that the Dees were on course for a 2 - 0 start to the season.  
Suddenly, our ship sailed into a thick fog and we were enveloped in a misty grey-yellow shroud. You could barely hear the lapping of the tiny waves around us as we ploughed through the eerily silent waters. Internet communication via satellite was intermittent and limited. I picked up an early score that had Essendon leading 1.2.8 to nil but I wasn't worried. The next time I managed to get on line, it was Melbourne leading by two goals midway through the second quarter. We were on our way.
They had a trivia competition on board and the rules were strict - no cell phones. My confidence was up and I wasn't worried but a little over an hour later when I was back on line, I had to look twice as the ¾ time score flashed on the screen to show the Bombers leading by nine points. The fog was thicker than a pea soup. The air became frozen. I was literally overcome by a sickening feeling like sailing the Titanic through another dead ocean with an iceberg directly under the bow. 
There was never a satisfactory explanation given as to why Melbourne crashed so badly that day. The Bombers were the competition's easybeats copping defeat after defeat in the weeks and months that followed and it looked as if the Demons would be their only victim for the season until they triumphed over an injury depleted Gold Coast at Etihad Stadium in Round  21.
Some put it down to poor preparation in the week before the game while others claimed that Melbourne got ahead of itself, that the players had big heads and turned up lacking focus.
At the other end of that season in the second last round, Melbourne suffered another humiliation at the hands of a lowly team in Carlton when it needed a victory to maintain its finals hopes.  At least there was an explanation for that result - the young team was rapidly tiring after a long exhausting season. It was at least a plausible if not entirely comforting excuse for a loss to an opponent going through its own long string of defeats.
This time around there are no excuses whatsoever. There is nothing and nobody left to blame. All of the stars are nicely aligned and you simply cannot question, the current board, CEO, coach, conditioning staff, playing list, ground announcer or boot studder. There is no reason on the strength of the form shown by the team last week; the coolness, the calmness and the discipline that we saw from a team which shrugged off an early four goal deficit to blitz to a well fancied opponent with ten consecutive consecutive goals in the period before and after half time. 
The sort of form that is epitomised by four of your players (including a 19 year old who played 75% of game time) accumulating 30 touches or more and another nine clocking up at least 20 disposals when the team is down a player from before quarter time is irrepressible and simply can't be overturned in the space of a week. Even the loss through suspension of Bernie Vince who was one of the team's 30 possession men against the Saints - something that once might once have been regarded as catastrophic - is not a major problem when Dom Tyson is waiting in the wings to replace him.
Carlton toiled hard in the season opener against Richmond but was outclassed and saved by further ignominy thanks to its accuracy in front of goal. They won't have to contend with a Dustin Martin this weekend but instead, face an opposition with a multitude of mid sized runners led by the AFL's leading ruckman and some very classy talls at either end of the ground. The players have the right mindset and are now well and truly used to disposing of any hoodoo or curse they might encounter along their football journey.
I even checked the weather forecast in the region of the North China sea and am led to believe that it will be all sunshine and blue skies on Sunday. No fog, no hard rain.
The evidence is there for all to see - another hoodoo will bite the dust in the most emphatic manner.
Melbourne by 65 points
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