Struggling to find the light

I never thought the time would come. The time where I no longer prioritise my weekends around when the Demons are playing. But after eight soul-destroying rounds of football, that is the decision I’m now faced with.

Football has always been about unconditional love. You support your team through the good times and the bad and stay to the end of the match, regardless of whether your team’s up or getting flogged. But now the misery and overwhelming feeling of hopelessness is starting to become too much.

Melbourne, like every other club, is always pressuring supporters to become members and tip in their hard earned cash to ensure its viability and to turn up to games to support the players. It’s part of the game that I’ve always accepted and never really questioned. That’s until now. It’s a pretty tough sell when you’re asked to stick behind a playing group that doesn’t look like it cares enough.

As a former Fitzroy supporter, I’m used to more than my fair share of downs. While I’m still to realise the ultimate footy fan’s dream, my basic hope is simple: to watch a Melbourne team that has a crack every single week. And if the Demons can achieve step one, it would nice to build on this and become a side that wins more often than it loses. I don’t think this is too much to ask. But I’m struggling to accept just how far away we are from these basic aims.

It is now apparent the period of tanking and bottoming out under Dean Bailey has been a complete waste of four years. With largely the same personnel, we are a shadow of the team which pushed Collingwood to a draw and 1 point in 2010, when the Magpies won the flag.

And there are far more questions than answers when you look for reasons for the current state of hopelessness. My feeling is the rot started to set in when James McDonald was told to retire at the end of 2010. The skipper was arguably in career best form before he tore his hamstring that season, but after a lengthy lay-off he returned to play some good footy and provide excellent leadership to a young group. But this obsession with getting games into young players at the expense of veterans should not apply to your captain. If Dustin Fletcher had had the misfortune of playing at Melbourne under Bailey, he would have been sent to pasture four years ago.

Post McDonald, the Demons have been completely rudderless on the footy field. The senior trio of Brad Green, Aaron Davey and Brent Moloney have had dramatically sharp declines in form and desire and the younger, talented players have floundered with the lack of support from experienced players. There has been much criticism of Melbourne’s drafting in recent years but I’m still not sure where the problem lies. Were the draftees overrated in the first place, or has a shocking culture sapped their ability out of them?

So this Sunday I’m facing a dilemma. We have an away game against Carlton. Despite Carlton’s recent woes (and wouldn’t I love for my team to have the Blues’ problems), we have as much chance of getting close to them as the likelihood of peace in the Middle East. As a Demons’ home game member, I’d have to part with 20 bucks to watch a playing group that doesn’t have a crack (except for a too small minority). I feel awful for saying this, but this far out from the game, I’d say I have better things to do with my time.

Comments

  1. Hang in there Barry.

    I think Neil Craig (the supposed football genius) has a lot to answer for. Not only have the Crows blossomed since he left SA but the Dees are playing the same lock down, dour, unexciting football that the Crows used to play. He’s the common denominator. No wonder the players aren’y buying in. If you lose the players you lose the battle.

  2. Barry, it’d be silly to say ‘Hang in there, son’ because the Fuschias are down for the count. I’d hate to be Melbourne fan. Possibly the oldest football club in the world, the first Australian Football club but collapsing like a house of playing cards.

    I’d guess 15 years before they’re even competitive. A fundamentally flawed club.

  3. Adam Muyt says:

    My sympathy Barry, years of pain and despair appear to be your lot.

    Question I have is this: why did a Royboy choose to follow the Dees? Not much cultural siimilarities. Most I know who adopted a new Melbourne based club to follow jumped onto North or the Dogs. What’s your reason(s)?

  4. hmmmm….this time last year Dees beat Crows by a lap.
    The coaches have swapped…Bailey helping adelaide to the top, Craig “innovating” Melb back to the bottom.

  5. Barry Levinson says:

    Dips, I hope Neil Craig proves to be good for us, but I agree, the current form of the Crows, next to our woes, don’t look good for him. He was also responsible for us recruiting James Sellar, so it’s been far from a great start. Too early to judge Craig’s role though.

    Adam, I agree it seems an odd choice. Here’s an explanation I prepared earlier
    http://footyalmanac.com.au/?p=31724

    Crio, I had big concerns over the players inconsistent commitment under Bailey and it was the main issue I was hoping Mark Neeld would address. Clearly hasn’t happened yet, but too early to judge Neeld. I lay the blame squarely with the culture among the players and it will be the coach’s job to clear out the bad eggs. An issue for another day, but AFL rules say all clubs have to pay a minimum of 92.5% of the cap. This ridiculous rule means there are a lot of Melbourne players who are overpaid and living the good life without achieving anything. Our list is a fair bit more than 7.5% off the pace-setters.

  6. Richard Naco says:

    Jeez, I don’t know what all the fuss is about.

    I can’t wait till Rounds 13 & 21 to see the Dees play …

    … against GWS.

  7. pamela sherpa says:

    I know this may seem minor and slightly irrelevant – but that collar on the Melbourne jumpers looks absolutely ridiculous -and uncomfortable .Sometimes the little things count.

  8. Ashley Browne says:

    Not too late to take a mulligan, Baz,

    Still plenty of room on the Hawk bandwagon for people of quality like you.

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