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  1. so i presume it's a squad of 25 who can play - effectively seven on the bench? do we know definite outs? jones (calf?) viney (foot) tyson (calf?) dean kent (shoulder) vandenberg (heel) weideman (ankle?) garlett (has he ever played in the preseason?) tim smith (foot) joel smith (leg) pat mckenna (hamstring) anyone else that is definitely not playing, as opposed to 'wouldn't risk' status?
  2. We have to reduce the number of talls, especially given we've got Essendon who don't have one ruckman, let alone two. I'd say in that regard Spencer is on the chopping block. Other than that, Bail, M Jones and Howe need to be looked at, Brayshaw might not get up, and I'm not sure how ANB and Stretch will pull up after the Darwin game. Casey played well today so hopefully there are some players to choose from. I'm not sure whether Michie and Newton have done enough at Casey to get recalled - they have been sent down there for a reason I assume, and I don't know whether they have fixed whatever they've been asked to fix. Who else is there? Harmes? Will Lumumba be fit?
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  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. BACK TO THE FOOTBALL by Whispering Jack 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.
  8. 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 Nathan Jones Forwards Jeremy Howe Colin Garland Luke Tapscott Followers Mark Jamar Brent Moloney Colin Sylvia Interchange Rohan Bail Matthew Bate Lynden Dunn Stef Martin Emergencies Jamie Bennell Sam Blease Jake Spencer In Rohan Bail Jamie Stef Martin Luke Tapscott Out Sam Blease (omitted) Mitch Clark (foot) Aaron Davey (hamstring) 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
  9. IN THE BUNKER by the Oracle Last week Melbourne travelled interstate for the second time this year and it returned home once again in disgrace - a loser by a margin in excess of 100 points. Make no mistake about it. Despite the protestations of all and sundry, the club is on the rack. Intense media scrutiny now follows the embattled Demons to the point where every move made by the club is analysed and subjected to critical assessment. Things reached such a state this week that coach Mark Neeld implored Demon fans to stick fat and join him in the bunker. One scribe looked at the appointment of Neeld and opined that the failure of those charged with making the appointment to carry out a "psychological profile" of the man was evidence of some damning failure of judgement on their part. Some are calling for heads to be lopped off. And don't you love these pundits in the media like David King who question Neeld's appointment today but were deathly silent six or seven months ago when he was appointed? Which is probably why King (whose last big statement came during last year's finals when he declared Geelong would not win the flag) never made it beyond a very mediocre assistant coach at AFL level. I also wonder when I read some of this stuff in the media as to whether Ron Barassi, Kevin Sheedy or Mick Malthouse would have passed the psychological profile test. I recall the early days of Alastair Clarkson's coaching reign at Hawthorn and think of the massive criticism directed at the man who was under siege at the time when his team was being flogged on a weekly basis. They were calling him a coaching lightweight and baying for his blood. And it wasn't just his blood - it was the players, the board, the administration and someone might even have taken a stab at the bootstudder. But Clarkson promised to change his club and eventually, he delivered on that promise. All in good time. Mark Neeld also made a similar promise but gave no guarantees as to how much time it would take to effect change. Of course, no one expected to see the team sitting at 0/8 and none of this is to take away from the fact that the team's performances this season have been well below that which we expect from an AFL outfit five years into what is supposed to be a rebuild. There are players, senior to the club whose performances thus far have been frustratingly lifeless and devoid of passion. They need to lift or else they might find that their careers will end swiftly in a very short space of time. Perhaps, they've already seen the writing on the wall. There are many changes happening on the AFL scene these days and recent history indicates that clubs can rise quickly once they get themselves on the right track. West Coast came from last to a top four side in 2011. The Crows who languished near the bottom last year are currently the flavour of the month. It might be a bitter pill to swallow for supporters seeing their team languishing at rock bottom (if we've in fact reached that point yet) but Melbourne will not remain in this position forever. Coincidentally, the Demons face Carlton at the MCG this Sunday. The same opposition it played in August last year just a week after they were disgraced by Geelong in the game that saw the sacking of Dean Bailey amid the turmoil of a dreadful 186 point loss. We can't expect miracles to happen this time around but we must remain steadfast and give the coach the time necessary to bring about the changes he promised. The media loves such situations but for the time being, we need to be calm and remain bunkered down with the coach and I'll happily join him in the trenches as soon as he produces the results of his psychological profile tests. Anyway, now is not the time to be baying for anyone's blood. THE GAME Melbourne v Carlton at the MCG - Saturday 27 May, 2012 at 3.15pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Carlton 115 wins 2 draws Melbourne 88 wins At MCG Carlton 47 wins Melbourne 49 wins Since 2000 Carlton 9 wins Melbourne 8 wins The Coaches Ratten 0 wins Neeld 0 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Footy Channel live @ 3:00pm. Radio - 3AW Triple M THE BETTING Carlton to win $1.04 Melbourne to win $11.00 THE LAST TIME THEY MET Carlton 21.8.134 defeated Melbourne 7.16.58 at the MCG, Round 20 , 2011 It was the week after 186 and Dean Bailey was gone. Club legend Todd Viney took over as caretaker coach and immediately there was new fire in the team's belly as it went on the attack from the outset. The problem was that the Demons left their kicking boots at home and kept missing easy shots in front of goal. With a little over two minutes left in the first term, the scoreboard read: Melbourne 3.6.24 Carlton 3.1.19. Then a series of errors brought on by inexperience and a couple of umpiring bloopers gave the Blues three quick goals and swung the game's momentum. Chris Judd then took the game by the scruff of the neck and Carlton's class and superior ability gave them a further eight unanswered goals in the second quarter. The Demons worked hard in the last half but the loss of Tapscott (neck) and Strauss (broken leg) simply added to their woes. TEAMS CARLTON Backs Zac Tuohy Michael Jamison Aaron Joseph Half backs Bryce Gibbs Lachlan Henderson Chris Yarran Centreline Kade Simpson Chris Judd Heath Scotland Half forwards Dennis Armfield Matthew Kreuzer Andrew Walker Forwards Eddie Betts Shaun Hampson Jeff Garlett Followers Robert Warnock Mitch Robinson Brock McLean Interchange (from) Josh Bootsma Paul Bower Andrew Collins Ed Curnow David Ellard Kane Lucas Matthew Watson In Josh Bootsma Andrew Collins Aaron Joseph Kane Lucas Brock McLean Robert Warnock Matthew Watson Out Nick Duigan (calf) Marc Murphy (shoulder) Bret Thornton Jordan Russell MELBOURNE Backs James Frawley Jared Rivers Clint Bartram Half backs Jack Grimes Colin Garland Tom McDonald Centreline Rohan Bail Brent Moloney Sam Blease Half forwards Jack Trengove Jack Watts Brad Green Forwards Jeremy Howe Mitch Clark James Sellar Followers Mark Jamar Lynden Dunn Nathan Jones Interchange (from) Jamie Bennell Jordie McKenzie James Magner Dan Nicholson James Sellar Emergencies Troy Davis Joel Macdonald Luke Tapscott In Rohan Bail Lynden Dunn Dan Nicholson James Sellar Out Aaron Davey Liam Jurrah (ankle) Cale Morton Colin Sylvia BRUISE FREE REVISITED The two combatants were comprehensively beaten at their last start but, while there's been some pressure on Brett Ratten whose team was on the cusp of premiership favouritism a fortnight ago, it's been Mark Neeld who has been copping most of the flak from the media. However, it's Neeld who only eight matches ago took over a fairly young list with a tough fixture and major problems including injury woes on the field and substantial issues off it. Who would have thought six months ago that his two major playmakers Liam Jurrah (criminal case, wrist and ankle injury) and Colin Sylvia (back) would not kick a goal between them in the first eight rounds and be restricted to a total of five matches with severely limited game time? Let's not forget what it was that Neeld took over. A struggling side whose last coach (excluding Viney the caretaker) won just over a quarter of his games culminating in 186 after almost four years, with the same media heads claiming he was unfairly treated when ousted. Yet this team was notorious for its inability to handle the press and when it played against teams that employed that style of play, it would routinely get thumped. Take this week's opponent and remember the "bruise-free" game of round 10 last year. Those of us who witnessed that monstrosity of a game would be well aware of the enormity of the challenge facing a new coach charged with overturning the mindset within a team that produced such a performance. Can you overcome that in two months when there is so much else of a negative nature swirling in the background? I suppose you could do exactly that. You could make no changes to your game plan and continue on exactly as the previous coach did in the past and, given the personnel available, you might be sitting at 2/6 or, if you were really lucky, 3/5 but, in truth, you would really be going nowhere. Your old guard who have become inured to producing inconsistency and tend towards laziness would continue on that well worn track. They would smile when they win and smile when they lose. They would be bruise free. Defeat would not only leave you physically painless. It wouldn't hurt you in any way whatsoever and, while that happens, you're never going to get anywhere in the long run. By round nine when you come up against Carlton you'll probably play bruise-free football again. You'll get flogged and the experts will bash you anyway. And that's the point. Mark Neeld saw the problems he inherited and embarked on a programme he believed necessary to overcome them. He wanted a team that was going to be hard to beat and not easy to win against. Neeld made mistakes in the short term but some of the circumstances conspired to make more difficult the metamorphosis from a team going nowhere that sometimes played nice but was a rabble when it counted into a real football team. He never promised a rose garden and the task has proven more difficult than anticipated but we suspected that some of the personnel weren't up to it physically and emotionally and that others needed more experience before the new order could take on an flourish. That won't happen against Carlton this Sunday because the team is still very much a work in progress but if you come back in a year's time, you'll see something different. Carlton by 55 points.
  10. THE VOICE - THE PEOPLE SPEAK by The People This week's match preview comes from Demonlanders. Thanks to everyone who contributed. Interesting! July 30th, 2011. We journeyed down to Kardinia Park to take on the Geelong Football Club in the middle of winter with a team that had shown some signs of promise. We seemed to be developing as a team which was headed in the right direction, regardless of the inconsistency from week to week. We turned up at Kardinia Park feeling as though we didn't really want to be there, as if we didn't believe we could win. I felt that the match was something we needed to survive our way through and then move on to next week. This attitude and a ruthless Geelong team saw us torn to shreds, not only on the scoreboard but the loss ripped the fabric of the club apart and took a part of our dignity. As we all know, Dean Bailey was sacked as the club tried to deal with it, but in reality we haven't been the same club since and we haven't fully gotten over it. There's been a painful darkness lurking in the corners of our collective MFC psyche since that day. There is only one way that the club can deal with what happened on that day last year, and sacking Dean Bailey or any other off field measures are completely insufficient. We need to go back to Kardinia Park and retrieve our dignity. It won't come easily, but must be torn back from Geelong; we must fight to take it back, and we must win to take it back. We must be ruthless in attacking every contest with absolute and brutal desperation. We must gut run from start to finish. We must treat every goal not with joyous celebration but with a sober resolve to bounce the ball and do it again. We need to punish Geelong every time they make a mistake or hesitate. This weekend is our opportunity to cast out the darkness, and we need to approach it head on, without compromise or excuse. Let's go to Kardinia Park, and let's fight to win our dignity back. Let's go to Kardinia Park together - MFC1858 THE GAME Geelong v Melbourne at Skilled Stadium on Saturday 5 May 2012 at 1.45pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Geelong 123 wins Melbourne 83 wins 2 draws At Skilled Stadium Geelong 35 wins Melbourne 17 wins 1 draw Since 2000 Geelong 13 wins Melbourne 6 wins 1 draw The Coaches Scott 0 Neeld 0 MEDIA TV Fox Footy Channel 1:30pm (LIVE) Delayed telecast - Channel 7 3:pm. RADIO SEN Triple M THE BETTING Geelong to win $1.03 Melbourne to win $12.00 LAST TIME THEY MET Geelong defeated Melbourne at Simmons Stadium in Round 19, 2011 (we all know what's happened and we need no further reminder) THE TEAMS GEELONG Backs Matthew Scarlett Harry Taylor Josh Hunt Half backs Corey Enright Tom Lonergan Andrew Mackie Centreline James Kelly Allen Christensen Joel Corey Half forwards Mitch Duncan James Podsiadly Steven Motlop Forwards Steve Johnson Tom Hawkins Mitch Brown Followers Trent West Jimmy Bartel Paul Chapman Interchange Cameron Guthrie Joel Selwood Billie Smedts Jesse Stringer Emergencies Shannon Byrnes Tom Gillies George Horlin-Smith In Mitch Brown James Kelly Out Taylor Hunt (soreness) Mathew Stokes (ankle) MELBOURNE Backs James Frawley Jared Rivers Clint Bartram Half backs Tom McDonald Colin Garland Jack Grimes Centreline Cale Morton Brent Moloney Jordie McKenzie Half forwards Nathan Jones James Sellar Jeremy Howe Forward Colin Sylvia Mitch Clark Aaron Davey Followers Mark Jamar James Magner Jack Trengove Interchange Rohan Bail Matthew Bate Lynden Dunn Luke Tapscott Emergencies Jamie Bennell Joel Macdonald Ricky Petterd In Mitch Clark James Frawley Out Joel Macdonald Jack Watts The Demons return this week to where it all began - or ended depending on your outlook. A completely new coaching panel. A completely new game plan. A very different Demons outfit. But no one who is a part of our great club can forget 186. So what does this all equate too? The bottom line is who the hell knows. The Demons looked like they have started to turn the corner a bit with the game plan and effort required but as we know all too well Melbourne is nothing if not sporadic. I cannot see a win no matter how I look at the game but there are still many things that can be achieved out of this game. For starters - a result that is far closer. An effort and intensity level that matches or builds on last week. An improvement in the execution of our game plan. Beamer must atone (regardless of how crook he was last year). Our midfield must give our backmen a chance and our forwards a look at the ball more than 40 times. Would it be folly to suggest this week that we adopt the old adage of everyone has one man for the day, regardless of where they play? Trengove on Bartel Jones on Chappy Beamer on Selwood Frawley/McDonald on Hawkins Bartram on Stokes Grimes on Christensen Sylvia on Enright Clark on Scarlett Morton on Mackie Watts on Corey ... and the list goes on. If nothing else, our boys will learn the work rate of a champion team, but if every player is responsible for just one man of flesh and blood, whom they must make it their life's ambition for that day to beat, then maybe, just maybe the Demons can make a game of it! - Grandson of a Gun Geelong is not playing the way they have in past years. Some of their wins have been unconvincing and they have lost twice to teams that failed to make last year's top eight. On the other hand, while Melbourne hasn't been all that flash, it isn't quite plumbing the depths of last year's devastating result at the Cattery. If the Dees can maintain their steady rate of improvement of the last couple of games then they might surprise the football world. Not necessarily with a win but with their best performance at this venue since the drawn game in 2006. - Demon Head The Demons are heading to Simmons Stadium this weekend to take on last year's premiers. It's a tough road trip for any side in the competition, let alone for the heavily scrutinised Demons who were pantsed by 186 points in the corresponding fixture in 2011. Every player who gets an opportunity this week will be driven by the humiliation of last year. None more so than #22 who, in a year where he polled exceptionally well in the Brownlow, couldn't manage a single possession in a half of football. He and the others will be keen to atone for last year's effort. If the 31 goal loss to Geelong was to have any silver lining, it is to be the subsequent introspection, and overhaul of the clubs footy department. This fresh start and direction looks to have galvanised the club as a whole. Led by Mark Neeld the Demons are working on a game style and culture which is intended to get the Melbourne Football Club back towards being a quality, consistent AFL side. Egos have been battered as home truths have been told, the leadership group has been overhauled. Inconsistency from week to week and questionable endeavour will no longer be tolerated. Gone are the days of Melbourne playing top picks for the sake of development. It's obvious to all that the transition from the past environment to the current one has not been an easy one for many of the players. 5 losses in 5 rounds has been a tough start to the season, especially with 3 of these losses coming against the lions, tigers and bulldogs. However the signs are starting improve as Neeld picks through the list to find a core group of players who will give their all in implementing his game style for four quarters. A four quarter effort which will be required this weekend if the Demons are to be any match for the Cats at their home. A competitive effort will also set the side up for the coming weeks where the Demons will play the majority of the form sides in the competition. A win during this period would do wonders for the confidence of the playing and coaching groups and set the side up for more victories in the second half of the year. I think the Demons will show a lot of heart again this week but will be hurt on the scoreboard by a polished Geelong outfit. Cats by 6 goals, 25 less than last year. - DemonWA
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