Belatedly, but without further ado, my brother's Gnomies for 2012:
Since I’ve been doing this we’ve endured sh*tful seasons. Just let me know when you’ve had enough of it. However this season really does take the cake.
The Sir Robert Flower Best & Fairest Award – Nathan Jones. Will win by the length of the tattoos on his arm. Superb season. Pace and precise disposal is not something we were discussing about him during the Bailey era. Well done Nathan. Although awarding the Bluey Truscott to a particular player of late has been likened to having a wolf bite you during the next pre-season and cursing you into the Demons Bermuda Triangle dustbin. Davey, Green, Moloney all dreadful post BT. Before them Travis, Junior, Bruce didn’t last long in the colours either. As Will said – “maybe we should only award it every 3rd year” in order to factor in a bit of breathing space for the expected performance letdown.
The Allen Jakovich Best First Year Player Award – James Magner. Aligning Magner to A Jakovich is laughable to say the least but head scratching or not, his was a good story to eke out 17 games with limited abilities. Only him, Couch and Tynan debuted this year. Still to view Cook, Taggert and Davis from our senior list. Sheahan from the rookie list looks a prospect.
The Guy Rigoni Biggest Surprise Packet Award – Tom McDonald. Took on some really tough opponents (notably N Riewoldt), performing creditably and has nailed down a key position post in the backline. Deceptively quick but needs to work on his disposal. A beacon amongst a lot of rocks.
The Andrew Leoncelli Most Improved Award – Sam Blease. We were certainly expecting him to improve and he really needs to up his work rate, 8 possessions a game is Bennellesque, but it was refreshing to see a Demons player take opponents on or break a line. If he can build a decent engine then it will be great seeing him speeding down the open MCG wings ala Steven Stretch.
The Brent Grgic Most Disappointing Award – Ricky Petterd. Watching him after his brilliant start to 2010 before injury intervened, I thought this guy was going into Demon stratosphere. The new GC team was chasing him hard and I remember our relief when he re-signed, with a picture of him down by the Yarra, with an also re-signed Col Garland, proudly tugging at his jumper. The New Demons Generation Are Committed And Comin’ At Ya!! Balls. The guy can’t kick, mark, handball or tackle anymore. While Col (our supposed next Matthew Scarlett) now looks like, as Sitchy says, a “shell shocked” Gallipoli fighter who’s best mate was blown up next to him, with the mate’s severed head landing right in his lap. In fact they should set up a Demons wing in that community service place Pete used to go to. Seddon-Morton, Possessions-Bennell and a few other shell shocked Demons victims can regularly check themselves in for treatment.
The Paul Hopgood Effort Award – Jack Grimes. Tough initiation to captaincy by any measure but he didn’t shirk an issue, got battered a few times but kept getting up. Improved as the season went on and we have a real good one here in Captain Jack.
The Stephen Tingay Young Player Potential Award – Jeremy Howe. Only 22 years old but seems so much more mature than half the startled rabbits around him. Has real potential because he can run and carry as well as being a prime time marking target.
The Glenn Lovett Established Player But Could Be A Superstar Award – Mitch Clark. He established himself elsewhere but has made an immediate impact in the Red and Navy Blue. How many times during the first half of the season did we say - “imagine what we’d be like if we hadn’t picked up Mitch Clark?!” (We also said it in the 2nd half too, even though he was moonbooted). If he can build on 2012 form, he’s in with the AA crowd. Amazing how you view a player at another club (eg. tatts, big head, overrated) but as soon as he puts on the great colours he takes on a far different aura. He was on that Eddie McGuire show last week and exuded Demon class, emotional when talking about Stynes and generally seeming to love wearing the jumper and absorbing the Demon ethos.
The Jeff Farmer Demons Goal Of The Year Award - Sam Blease. Kicked a couple of really good ones. The left footer from the boundary from just inside 50 against the Tiges sticks in the memory (because it was our first of the game after about 7 Tigers ones), as does one at the Had right in front of us against Freo.
The Shaun Smith Demons Mark Of The Year Award – James Magner? It felt like the Demon midfield were anticipating a high mark from him every game. No, it had to be only one man - J Howe. SCG. Pity it was over the other side of the ground, I was getting a beer, not watching the game anyway and we were already 12 goals down in the 3rd Qtr. His Darwin mark was right up there too. Just one right in front of the MCG steps next thanks Jeremy.
The Jeremy Nichols Blink And You’ll Miss Him Award – Michael Evans. Almost 40 possessions in his first game. Didn’t add to his 4 games this year. Still could find a spot but needs a bit of luck.
The Nick Smith X-Factor Award – Liam Jurrah. X-Factor like that X he carved across his cousin’s chest. A truly Demonesque story. At least he quit and we didn’t ditch him. Imagine the curse him and his brothers would have dreamt up, worse than The Last Wave. They probably still have....
The Anthony Ingerson Older Player But Keep On List Until He Claps Out Award – Jared Rivers. A really decent Demon soldier. Surprising move forward and even that wasn’t a red faced exercise. Surprising also he is yet to be re-signed.
The Darren Cuthbertson Frustration Award – Jordan Gysberts. Well I can’t keep giving it to Seddon-Morton or Possessions-Bennell. Frustrating more with injury than unrealised talent after bulk games (ie Morton) or lack of workrate (ie Bennell) but 1 game back this season and then immediately dropped for more Casey games, plus trade bait rumours doesn’t bode well. His first 2 games were magnificent. Typically. Tapscott, although you love his attack on the Sherrin, another who started his career brilliantly but has had a frustrating season. But then again who hasn’t...Trengrove had a poor season but still a major hope he is gold plated, Garland another typical Demons leadership group inductee then patented fall off, Moloney needs no comment apart from talking on his trade worth, ditto Davey.
The Darren Kowal Designated Kicker Out From Goal Award – James Frawley. From a point he has a wonderful knack of kicking the ball to himself and dashing off, sizing up the options down field, seeing nothing on offer, backtracks, looks for several handball options, backtracks again, then under pressure backtracks yet again and scrubs a kick or loose handball to a contest. We are categorically the worst team in the history of VFL/AFL at the refined art of kicking in. Even the expansion teams are already doing it better. There is sepia coloured footage of Danny Hughes kicking out in an MCG final, the ball lands near the centre, bounces once or twice, Viney jumps up in front of his opponent and taps it over his head to a fast running Stretch, who takes a bounce, runs to 50 and slots a goal. Auction that at Sotheby’s and you’d get a fortune.
What a season.
The most insipid first 8 rounds in any season. Possibly by any team. Top that with the death of a club legend at a ridiculous 45 years of age, a race row involving Davey who didn’t fired a shot after that and it wrongly implicated the coach, a sponsor who turned out to be a complete nutter, machete-attack-reprisal-indigineous-law-court-case-say-no-more, re-igniting the pointless tanking debate by ex axe to grind fvckwit players and resulting in the fact that whenever it is raised it will forever be linked to the Demons. After the tragic Stynes passing, the most downcast part of the season is surely the 4 wins in total, with 3 coming against the expansion, start up, easy beat clowns. If you’d have said 4 wins to me at the start of the season with Watts, Trengove, Morton, Gysberts, Tapscott, Jurrah, Petterd, Grimes all starting to really mature, plus recruiting big gun Mitch, I’d have said you were completely nuts. Tragi/comedy for certain.
Neeld? Well we can’t criticise him for making some hard calls. Unloaded on the team after Rd 1; dropped big names Davey, Green, Moloney; tapped Green on the shoulder re retirement; deferring contracts signs ups. Can he coach? No fvckin’ idea. The newer, tougher game plan he promised needs a Pacific Ocean sized more pre-season refinement if we’re to be competitive. 2013 will go a long way to testing his mettle. The honeymoon will be over.
He’s pointing in the right direction with the list. Major overhaul is required, no half measures from here. We’ll get more prime draft picks, but as Rick said – “giving the Demons good draft picks is like me giving Max (his 8 yr old son) money”. We seem to fritter them away on ice-cream, redskins and milkshakes. Viney seems the prototype we need and should be prepared for immediate action. A real bonus if we get him Rd 2 of the draft. Another big trade fish, like Mitch, would be primo but is always a risk. At least Cloke is not part of it.
I’m making absolutely no predictions anymore but my only wish for next season is just having a consistent blast of daylight, not simply poking it’s head out like a frightened turtle, to give us faithful idiots some hope that we are pointing in the right direction, because the expansion AFL endorsed and stamped teams are only going to getting slowly stronger and ladder table positions far more competitive. If it all goes pear shaped again our only solace being the annual pleasure in beating the Bombers again and denting their evilly ambitious plans. Son of friend – “Dad has always said we’d be really good in 2013.”