AFL Round 2 – Melbourne v West Coast: Another dismal day for the Demons

What can I say about today’s match between Melbourne and West Coast Eagles?

There were some encouraging signs when the Demons played the Saints last week, especially in the first quarter. “We have a great coach this year. Perhaps things will begin to look up,” I thought to myself.

Alas, after today’s dreadful performance the despair for Demons’ supporters looks as deep as ever.

As one barracker shouted out, “They’re worse than last year!”

That’s a big call, but they certainly look no better. It’s partly about confidence, but it’s also about size. The Demons, as has been the case for so many years now, just look smaller than their opposition. Perhaps it’s an illusion, born simply of repeated failure.

Two dropped chest marks were the lowest points of a very low day. It spoke volumes for a lack of confidence, surely.

One thing that did strike me was just how patient and generous the supporters were. The (rare) passages of play – and goals – that warranted applause were applauded enthusiastically. At the end of the match, the players were clapped as they entered the race – though the crowd that had gathered there was very thin, it must be said.

So where do we go from here? I have absolutely no idea. Clearly, the lack of a decent forward line is crippling. What should Paul Roos do? There is talk of ‘tough love’. I never know exactly what is meant by that. If it means some regular players are dropped to make way for some experimentation, well, perhaps that’s not such a bad thing. If it means abandoning the role of ‘teacher’ to become critic and taskmaster, I’m not so sure.

Clearly, it’s going to be a long year for Paul Roos. Already he has broken his personal record for worst loss as a football coach. A big part of the challenge, surely, will be to find ways to retain his composure at post match press conferences as the pressure continues to mount, as it no doubt will.

I thought it was a smart move to measure Melbourne’s success this year in terms of percentage rather than wins, but as things stand now, it really doesn’t look as though it’s going to make any difference either way. Who know? Perhaps our percentage will be worse this year.

I have no doubt there are individuals who are good footballers within the Melbourne team. I have no doubt that the AFL is a very tough competition, and that even Melbourne’s worst performers are still elite athletes. But when all is said and done, either you measure up or you don’t, and if you don’t, you will be replaced by somebody who (hopefully) will. Paul Roos said as much after today’s match.

It’s always fun to be at the footy. The pies are hot. So are the chips. So is the coffee.

But it would be a whole lot more fun if my team was not thrashed every week.


About Stephen Whiteside

Stephen Whiteside is primarily a writer of rhyming verse. He has been writing for over thirty years, and writes for both adults and children. Many of his poems have been published in magazines and anthologies, both in Australia and overseas, or won awards. His collection of rhyming verse for children, "'The Billy That Died With Its Boots On' and Other Australian Verse", was published by Walker Books in May 2014. Stephen performs regularly at folk festivals around the country - mostly in Victoria. He is also a great fan of the Australian poet C. J. Dennis. He is a foundation member of the C. J. Dennis Society, and is closely involved in the organisation of the annual Toolangi C. J. Dennis Poetry Festival. Stephen is a long-suffering Melbourne supporter.


  1. Well said Stephen. This sounds like cold comfort, but I do think that just one strong marking target up forward to provide a contest would make a huge difference. Do you have someone to fill the whole that Clark has left?
    With just that one player I reckon you would have lost by 8 and not by 16 goals today (cold comfort as I said).
    Jack Watts is your version of Bryce Gibbs and therefore an easy target, but when he dropped that sitter in a scoring position I thought
    “Looks like Tab Hunter, plays like Sandra Dee.”
    Can you make him a key defender to give him some accountability, and shift someone like Frawley up forward?
    Nathan Jones would walk into any team in the AFL.

  2. And that’s the rub Mr B; how many uncontracted players are likely to walk?

    Jack Why may even be asked to move. His heart’s just not in it.

    And to see Pettard & Rivers amongst the better players at other clubs can’t help supporters’ morale either.

    Yesterday at The Home of Football was a sad day for the MFC and an even blacker one for Football.

  3. GIven the outstanding weather on offer yesterday, I moseyed along to the Temple Down the Road for Melbourne V West Coast.

    The Dees were horrid on the scoreboard and the turnovers and skill errors at times were lamentable, but with Dawes and Clark in the stands, the distinct lack of a forward target was stark. In no way would D & C have been the difference yesterday, but I’m sure Jones, Toumpas and Co would have loved to have seen a 190cm unit on a hard lead as they come out of defence into their own arc.

    The Eagles, it must be said, were brilliant. He may not have got the 3 votes from yesterday’s game, but a few sheckels on Scott Selwood at odds to win the Brownlow wouldn’t be the craziest investment. Load up if you can find a corporate bookie willing to frame a market for the leading vote-getter at each club.

  4. Peter – The cold, hard fact is that Jack Watts simply may not be more than a fair-to-middling AFL player who went number 1 after beating up on some APS kids. Both Neeld and Bailey played him down back at various times and as is their want at Melbourne, it was the coaches who got the khyber and not the player who continually fails in the tasks given to him by a coaching panel.

    It was only one mark, but it was an uncontested, regulation chest-mark in conditions you only get in September. Add to that the numerous turnovers from his disposals and lack of accountability or preparedness to work hard when he didn’t have the ball (trademarks of his game over the last three years) and you wonder whether this kid isn’t quite comfortable getting a game by default. Would that kind of laziness and sub-standard execution be tolerated by Clarko? By Rossy? By the Horse?

  5. Jack Watts gets far to much attention by the football public.
    He should never have gone No 1.
    Had he gone around 10 – 20, which is probably more correct, no one would be paying out on him.
    Granted you can’t drop uncontested chest marks, but ‘let he who is without sin…’

    That said, as a Dees supporter who was there yesterday, I can’t wait to see who Roosy drops for next week.

  6. kath presdee says

    Lets see how you go against us next week. That will be an indication as to whether you’ve really slipped in standards or whether the others are performing ahead of expectations.

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