A week off – a Demons fan reflects

June 18, 2019 by · Leave a Comment
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A week off – A Demons fan reflects

Nigel Dawe

“What is history? An echo of the past in the future; a reflex from the future on the past.”
– Victor Hugo (who did he coach? – Ed)

It’s funny in life, how loose ends can sometimes take years to
connect or come to reveal and intertwine themselves of their own
volition. In 2004, I drafted an article for ‘Inside Football’ (which I still
can’t believe fell by the wayside as a publication last year) however it
was an article I never got around to submitting, it was all about our
great Vin Coutie and how 100 years prior in 1904 he had topped the
League with a then competition record haul of 39 goals.

As an early captain and much revered club stalwart, Vin was also the
first player in VFL history to kick 8 goals on two occasions. His career
finished up with a then club record 152 games at the end of 1911
(one season shy of the adoption of ‘A Grand Old Flag’ as our team
song). So he has been a figure in Melbourne’s long history that I have
always had an interest in and one that I’ve sought out in terms of
items to collect from his playing days.

Now, that’s the back-story, but the real story was my attempt to get
hold of a 1973 ‘Big Ben Pies’ Demons drawing from ‘Memorabilia on
Smith’, an absolute Mecca of a store for die-hard footy buffs, located
in Fitzroy. So I rang Cameron Doyle there (who is also an ex-
Collingwood player and now the penultimate VFL/AFL heritage
supremo, not to mention the only bloke I know who owns over 300
game worn guernseys) to check whether he might have the above
said item, which he didn’t.

But what he did have, and much to my immediate lotto winning-like
response, was an incredibly rare 1909 Melbourne team photo that
includes, of course, the great Vin Coutie (fourth from the left, middle
row) and also Joe Pearce on the far right of the back row (who lost
his life at Gallipoli on the day of the original landings in 1915 and was
also the much older cousin of club legend Jack Mueller). ‘Book-
ending’ the back row on the opposite far left is none other than
Harry Brereton, our ace forward of focus, if you recall from my last
article.

Needless to say this incredible ‘snapshot’ and integral ‘thread’ in our
Grand Old Flag is now mine, but it got me reflecting on how none of
us ever really ‘own’ things like this, we merely ‘look after’ them so
that they may continue to evoke and ‘keep alive’ the legacy and
memory of those that have gone before. Rather like the scene from
the movie ‘Dead Poets Society’, gazing at my newly acquired
treasure, I can still hear our heroes of 110 years ago, and none more
so than the smirking ‘cap-wearing’ Joey Hodgkins up in the back row
of the shot, distinctly chime: “Seize the day boys, Seize the day!”

Dees Unable to Beat Hot Pies in Big Freeze

June 13, 2019 by · Leave a Comment
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Round 12 – Collingwood vs Melbourne – Dees Unable to Beat Hot Pies in Big Freeze

Liam Chambers

It was always going to be a tough game. A Dees win would have been seen as a major upset against the in-form Magpies. Still, the job of a Melbourne fan is to believe and as John Lennon wrote “you may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one”. The Demons’ fans who poured en masse into the MGC on Monday afternoon definitely believed in dreams.

Like the Round 10 game against the Giants, our defence was besieged by wave after wave of onslaught from Collingwood from the start. I don’t think our players got out of their own half for the first eight minutes of the first quarter.

Incredibly, all that pressure only resulted in a single goal for the Pies in the first fifteen minutes of play. When Jeff Garlett scored in the last minute of Q1 (after a clever kick from Christian Petracca), the relief that we were only fifteen points in arrears was palatable.

The second quarter started better when Petracca kicked the ball on the run from forty metres out to score the Dees’ second goal and reduce the margin to nine points. Despite controlling the ball better and a Charlie Spargo goal, Melbourne were unable to take advantage and had fallen further behind to Collingwood at half time.

The Demons continued to miss from set shots but luckily so did Collingwood. However, the Pies upped their game and kicked five goals for the quarter. One of the bright spots for Melbourne was Sam Weideman’s goal. After last week’s hugely disappointing missed shot that would have won the game in Darwin, that goal would have helped restore his confidence. Jayden Hunt also added to the scoreline.

Like many Dees supporters, I’m sure, I was hoping for a repeat of Melbourne’s fourth quarter against GWS when we slotted seven goals in a Demon rampage. Alas it was not to be. Sam Weideman doubled his tally and Mitch Hannan got us to within twenty points of last year’s runners up but that was where the fantasy ended. Collingwood kicked the last four goals of the game to win by forty one points.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we have to be more accurate when it comes to set shots. It always easy to be an armchair critic and the pressure in front of 77,000 spectators would unbelievably intimidating but the reality is that’s how the top teams keep winning.

On the positive side, Max Gawn had a massive 34 disposals (I know!). Max has also been practising his marking and has been very impressive in that area this season. Petracca seemed to be everywhere at times. Marty Hore had flashes of brilliance (I still believe he will be a star of the game). Jake Lever seemed to settle in as the game went on and his partnership with Steven May may yet prove very fruitful for the Dees.

We don’t play next week so I hope the week’s rest will see our lads back and in winning form against Freemantle in Round 14.

Go the Magnificent Dees!!!

COLLINGWOOD     3.5     6.8     11.8     15.8     (98)
MELBOURNE          1.2     3.5      5.9      7.15     (57)

GOALS
Collingwood:
De Goey 3, Stephenson 3, Hoskin-Elliott 3, Grundy, Mihocek, Sidebottom, Treloar, Cox, Thomas
Melbourne: Weideman 2, Garlett, Petracca, Spargo, Hunt, Hannan

BEST
Collingwood:
Sidebottom, Treloar, Stephenson, Hoskin-Elliott, De Goey, Sier
Melbourne: Gawn, Harmes, Oliver, Brayshaw, May, Petracca

Sam’s Sorrow

June 5, 2019 by · Leave a Comment
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Round 11 – Melbourne Vs Adelaide Crows – Sam’s Sorrow

Liam Chambers

No matter how disappointed Melbourne fans must feel at our last second loss in Darwin, spare a though for poor Sam Weideman. He had the toughest task in football when he made a marvellous mark in front of goal, then had to steady himself and try to kick the winner for his team. The resultant miss meant the Dees lost the game by just two points.

Of course we’ve been here before. Most memorable was Melbourne’s opening game of the 2018 season against Geelong. With a minute to go, Max Gawn marked the ball and converted for a minor score ensuring the Cats won by a measly three points. Max would be very sympathetic to young Sam’s situation. Back then there was still an entire season of footy to be played and a narrow loss was not disastrous for Melbourne. However with three eight from eleven games, it looks like the Dees’ chances of making the finals have been dealt a near fatal blow.

The Demons played superbly in the first half. James Harmes opened the scoring with his fourth minute goal and Christian Petracca added a second a few minutes later. Unfortunately Petracca had a brain freeze just after that giving a away a fifty metre penalty. The Crows’ player Gibbs then kicked the ball to Tom Lynch who converted to score the Crows’ first goal and let them into the game. Further goals by Jayden Hunt, Jeff Garlett, Weideman and Angus Brayshaw saw the Dees take a comfortable fifteen point margin into quarter time.

Though Q2 was a lower scoring affair, a second from Garlett plus one each from Clayton Oliver and Tim Smith meant the Dees extended their lead to 25 points at half time.

The game was looking very rosy for Melbourne when Mitch Hannan, back from injury, kicked a goal to extend the lead to 31 points. Unfortunately, you write off the Adelaide Crows at your peril and three unanswered goals meant they went into the last quarter trailing by only 16 points.

When Jeff Garlett kicked his third goal early in Q4, the Dees led by 22 points. Confidence was regained. The Crows kept pushing back though and when Eddie Betts kicked his second, the crowd really got behind Adelaide. Whenever the Crows got inside 50, they were scoring and Melbourne was now well and truly on the back foot.

With just over five minutes to go,  Brad Crouch kicked his third. The Crows now led for the first time in the game. Despite some valiant efforts, Melbourne was unable to find a way back in to win the match. Adelaide ended their losing streak and the Dees are now three games without a win.

Many commentators are suggesting that Melbourne accept that this season is a non-starter and that their focus should be on rebuilding the team for next season. Though understandable as this reasoning may be, I feel that the Dees should not accept that situation while it is still mathematically possible to finish in the top eight. Next week’s match is against our old foe Collingwood. We will now be unbackable favourites to lose that game but we might well surprise the sceptics.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!

MELBOURNE  6.3   9.4  11.8   12.16 (88)
ADELAIDE     4.0   5.3   9.4    14.6 (90)

GOALS
Melbourne: Garlett 3, Hannan, Hunt, Weideman, Smith, Petracca, Jones, Brayshaw, Harmes, Oliver
Adelaide: B.Crouch 3, Lynch 3, Jenkins 2, Betts 2, Gallucci, Walker, Murphy, Ellis-Yolmen

BEST
Melbourne: Gawn, Harmes, Brayshaw, Oliver, Hibberd, Petracca
Adelaide: Lynch, B. Crouch, Laird, Greenwood, Ellis-Yolmen, Atkins

Dees under siege

May 29, 2019 by · Leave a Comment
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Round 10 – Melbourne Vs GWS Giants – Under Siege

Liam Chambers

Considering the amount of time the Giants spent in Melbourne’s half it was a ScoMo miracle that it took them almost twenty minutes to score their first goal. At times it seemed that the Dee’s skill set had been misplaced by the baggage handlers at Perth Airport. The side that had stunned the Eagles for the first three quarters last week looked out of their depth as they struggled against wave after wave of GWS onslaught.

By half time, the Giants led inside 50s by 33-16, disposals by 204-136 and contested possessions by 72-55. Melbourne only managed one goal for the entire first half, albeit a brilliant effort by Jayden Hunt.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Dees though. Marty Hore had an outstanding game. His efforts probably prevented the Giants from adding another four or five goals on Saturday afternoon. His work rate was superb. He is a potential champion of the game and has been improving week on week. Max Gawn proved yet again that he is the best ruck man in the AFL. There were moments of brilliance from Jack Viney and Sam Frost and Cory Wagner was consistently good. The new kid on the block Oskar Baker scored twice in only his second game for Melbourne, showing he wasn’t over awed to be playing at the MCG. Oskar also impressed with his kicking ability. His father would be justifiably proud.

The fourth quarter showed how well the Dees can play with seven goals to the Giants one. Tom McDonald scored two back to back after earlier missed attempts. You could feel the belief returning to Melbourne’s game but unfortunately the mountain was too high to climb. I also think we missed the calm and focused presence of Christian Salem who is still injured after last week’s game against West Coast. We wish him a speedy recovery.

Next week will see a multitude of players back from injury and available to play. It will be interesting to see who gets picked and who’s left out.

The Round 11 match against the Adelaide Crows in Darwin will be a great game. We will have to ensure that we don’t let the Crows dominate early on. Also Adelaide are a dangerous side right down to the last second and can never be written off until the siren sounds. The atmosphere will be electric and the Darwin crowd will make their feelings felt. Also the great Eddie Betts will be there and that alone is worth the price of admission.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!

MELBOURNE  1.1       1.3       3.6       10.8 (68)
GWS GIANTS  2.5       6.8       12.9     14.10 (94)

GOALS
Melbourne:
Baker 2, T.McDonald 2, Hunt, Garlett, Petracca, Lockhart, Stretch, Spargo
GWS Giants: Himmelberg 5, Cameron 3, Whitfield 2, Taylor, Finlayson, Coniglio, Kelly

BEST
Melbourne:
Gawn, Hore, C.Wagner
GWS Giants: Kelly, Hopper, de Boer, Taranto, Himmelberg, Haynes

So Close You Could Rue It

May 22, 2019 by · Leave a Comment
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Melbourne v West Coast Round 9 2019

Round 9 – Melbourne vs West Coast Eagles – So close you could rue it

Liam Chambers

So many times we’ve read the line “Melbourne left ruing missed opportunities”. Friday night in Perth look like a certain upset until the last minutes of the third quarter. Even then you felt that the Dees would prevail.

Unfortunately some dubious decisions in the fourth quarter against Melbourne gave the Eagles the momentum to gain a late advantage. I know the umpires have a difficult job and an individual fan will have a subjective view of events on the field. However Demon supporters can feel vindicated regarding Q4 decisions now the AFL has admitted the decision to award Lewis Jedda a free kick for an incident that left Tim Smith concussed was incorrect. The furiously righteous indignation in my friend’s lounge room on Friday night was therefore completely justified.

Anyway, that’s all in the past now and we need to refocus for the next game.

I have to start by saying that for most of the game I felt like I was watching a different Melbourne team to the one that had played in the previous eight rounds.

The skill level went up several notches on occasion and the Eagles looked stunned that Melbourne was dominating them on their hallowed home turf. In particular, a wonderful run of play by Clayton Oliver and Jayden Hunt was a highlight of Q1.

On the subject of missed opportunities, we are letting ourselves down when it comes to set shots. So many times in the past couple of years when Melbourne have been playing well, they stumble when favourable circumstances present themselves in front of goal. Brilliant marks are taken only for a player to miss kick what looks like a certain six points. I don’t know what the answer to that particular dilemma is; however I am certain now that we will struggle to win the big prize if we are unable to drastically improve in that area.

Nathan Jones is always inspirational and his opening goal in Perth fired up the players and fans. Gawn was our best asset again and Petracca is so impressive when he puts everything into his game. Jeff Garlett was notable, not only for his tally of three goals but for his determination to break through the Eagle’s defence. An image for the ages was Sam Frost’s chase down of Jack Petrucelle to claim the ball and most of Petrucelle’s shirt.

Video: Sam Frost’s inspirational chase

The most encouraging Dees’ tactic for me was their willingness to tackle the opposition. Their tackle rate was almost double that of the Eagles’ at half time. We’ve also improved our defence and we’re not leaking goals like we did in the earlier rounds.

We were dominating inside 50s in Q3 and looked like we could create one of the upsets of the season. We were leading by nineteen points with only a few minutes to go at the end of the quarter but unfortunately we allowed Josh Kennedy a chance to have a shot at goal which he obligingly converted.

Once Luke Shuey score early in the final quarter for the Eagles, the home crowd really got behind their team. When you have an overwhelmingly hostile crowd roaring for your defeat, it can be a tad unsettling. Suddenly the Eagles were kicking at a much higher efficiency rate and they were stacking up goals with alarming frequency. Jayden Hunt’s goal in the twelfth minute was both brilliant and inspiring but unfortunately was not enough to snatch back the momentum from West Coast.

I’d like to mention that Oskar Baker made his debut for the Demons on Friday night. He has performed very well for Casey over the last few season and though he was a little overawed by the enormity of the occasion, he did enough to ensure he will be selected again.

Video: Oskar Baker’s special debut. I’m not crying, you are.

Next week we face the Giants and if we play as well like we did in Perth, then I believe we will definitely win. Go the Dees!!!

WEST COAST   3.2   5.4   7.6    13.7 (85)
MELBOURNE    3.4   5.8   8.12   9.15 (69)

GOALS
West Coast:
Kennedy 4, Rioli 2, Shuey 2, Cripps 2, Ryan, Darling, Sheed
Melbourne: Garlett 3, Petracca 2, Hunt 2, Jones, T.Smith

BEST 
West Coast:
Yeo, Hurn, Kennedy, Sheed, Shuey, Gaff
Melbourne: Gawn, Harmes, Hunt, Frost, Garlett, Petracca

INJURIES 
West Coast:
Venables (concussion), Hickey (ankle), Schofield (general soreness) replaced in selected side by Tom Hickey
Melbourne: Neal-Bullen (concussion), T.Smith (concussion), Salem (concussion)

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