AFL Round 21 – Melbourne v Fremantle: Melbourne is no Claremont



Coming into the game I was speculating on the extent of the flogging – an even 100 points was my estimation. I was also wondering if there was a single reason why Melbourne should be in the AFL. I couldn’t think of one. By my reckoning the AFL has given them about $3 million in 2010, 2011, and 2012, and $5 million dollars this year. There is no end in sight to this. The big personality of Jim Stynes as president only acted to mask the fact that the club has no culture at all, it is completely hollow. The average attendance of Melbourne supporters at their home games is 12,000 at best. The Suns are getting 10,000 already, Port Adelaide gets about 24,000.


Melbourne don’t have a legitimate mandate to be in the competition. If we need 18 teams we should just put Claremont in. At least they would be competitive, would get sponsors, and if you handed over the Melbourne list, the ever durable Claremont administration would be have them playing finals in no time. One thing they wouldn’t need is life support from here to eternity.


In the game, the opening quarter was Freo versus the witch’s hats, except for Jake Spencer who has discovered the AFL has no penalty for players who run back with the flight of the ball and smash into an unprotected pack rather than an individual player. He managed to fracture Aaron Sandilands cheekbone without so much as a murmur from the match review panel, despite the fact that Sandilands had both arms extended above his head with his eyes on the ball, and that Spencer neither knew nor cared where the ball was.


Mind you the Melbourne players acting under their instructions did not have any hope of winning the game – it’s one thing for the president elect to bang on about losses being simply unacceptable, but if after five minutes of play your coach has an 8 man back-line, and keeps it for the whole match, it is hard to see how the team is actually going to win. It was just damage control from the outset.


Second quarter was very messy, for the second time in as many weeks Freo descended to their opponents level in that quarter – but as with last week, after a period of poor quality football they were able to right their own ship, without the intervention of the coaching staff at a break. Clearly the on field leadership is building.


Fremantle started again after half time, the low risk, high structure game returned in the third quarter and Melbourne had no answers whatsoever, managing a solitary goal for the rest of the match. In good news for Fremantle Zac Clarke continued his dominance, in the ruck, the air, and around the ground and was stellar in the last quarter. Danyle Pearce played a fantastic game as did the free-running Stephen Hill. No-one but the Freo match committee and faithful seem to have noticed Lachie Neale, but he is going to present some selection headaches at Freo.


Jack Viney was a very worthy winner of the Rising Star nomination out of the game, and the club where he ends up spending the bulk of his career can look forward to a getting a champion.



MELBOURNE          0.2   4.5        5.5   5.8   (38)
FREMANTLE           4.5   9.6      14.11   20.13   (133)

 Kent, Howe, Davis, Viney, Fitzpatrick
Fremantle: Ballantyne 4, Pavlich 4, Hill 2, Mayne 2, Sandilands, Silvagni, Walters, Clarke, Sheridan, Spurr, Fyfe, Pearce

Malarkey Medal: 3 Mundy, 2 Clarke, 1 Neale


  1. The problem with Claremont is that they, like Melbourne, have trouble drawing a crowd despite their on-field success.

    You might be onto something however. The new Melbourne president is a former East Perth player. In 1980 East Perth (the Royals) made a cheeky attempt to join the VFL. Recently they’re jumped into bed with the Eagles as an aligned club in the WAFL… maybe that’s a smokescreen. Would many Demons members object to being called the Royals, playing in black and blue and playing half their games in Perth?

  2. Classic Belford. Very funny. (I am aware you are deadly serious. Did you raise these thoughts in the members? Was anyone in the members?)

  3. David Zampatti says

    I’ve been banging on elsewhere about the Spencer/ Sandilands train wreck.

    I’m not particularly critical of Spencer, or the lack of even a glance from the MRP, because the incident fell within the tradition that holds the marking contest to be excluded from the sanctions applied to high contact in every other facet of the game.

    The philosophy seems to be – and this has been supported vociferously by many people who’ve responded to me – that the marking contest is so intrinsic to the game’s aeshthetic and appeal that the usual rules don’t apply, because they risk nobbling the duel.

    In other words, there’s a duty of care to the game that outweighs the duty of care to the peole playing it.

    So Jack Ziebell, who got four weeks for essentially the same act as Spencer (without the same amount of damage to his opponent) needs to understand that he was fairly punished because the ball arrived at the contest by handball rather than kick.

    No doubt he’ll immediately see the logic in that.

    I’ve often seen marking players plant their knee at high speed into the base of the skull of an opponent backing into the contest,drawing awed praise for the atheleticism of one, and the courage of the other.

    Me, I just watch and hope the poor bastard who cops the knee hasn’t been killed.

  4. Sean Gorman says

    Caaarn the Monts!!!

  5. Baiting disguised as a match report Neil? Hope you catch something. The moaning and gnashing of teeth over Fitzroy’s demise has always made me wonder how the Victorian supporters would feel if they lost their whole competition. The WAFL and the SANFL have been reduced to feeders to the AFL competition. It is more profitable for a WAFL club to produce a player that goes into the AFL draft than it is to win a Grand Final. Did I just throw a little burley in the water? Carn the Royals.

  6. Dave Nadel says

    This is going to be very hard to do. Since Demon supporting almanacers don’t have the gumption to defend their club’s existence in the AFL, I find myself forced to it for them. As a Magpie supporter who went to school between 1953 and 1964 Melbourne blighted my childhood when they won six Premierships in ten years, the majority of them after Grand Finals against Collingwood. However……

    Melbourne is the oldest football club in any code still playing at the top level in its national league. It sometimes claims to be the oldest football club but Sheffield Football (Soccer) Club was founded two years earlier. However Sheffield is not related to Sheffield Wednesday or Sheffield United and does not play in the English Football League. So The Demon’s claim to international sporting fame rests on the continued membership of the AFL. I think that is a legitimate claim to heritage protection.

    Melbourne bears the name of the city in which Aussie Rules was invented. While it is possible to have a capitol city with a number of clubs named after suburbs and none named after the capitol itself (as happens with London in the EPL) it is unusual and not particularly desirable.

    Melbourne may not have won a VFL/AFL premiership since 1964 but they have still won 12 flags. Only Collingwood, Carlton and Essendon have done better. A large number of flags in the past didn’t save Fitzroy in 1996 but a lot of us think the AFL lost part of its soul when Brisbane was encouraged to swallow Fitzroy.

    I agree with Neil that Melbourne currently is not playing like an AFL side and that its supporter base (which is potentially the fourth or fifth largest in Victoria) are not attending matches (Can you blame them?). Something has to be done about Melbourne but that something should be aimed at keeping it in the AFL as a successful club rather than dropping it and letting it die. It is too important a part of Australia’s football heritage.

  7. Les – once the East Perth Demons enter the AFL, will you pledge allegiance or stick by the Purple Scum???
    Sacrifice the first born or the second born??? I suggest you seek spiritual advice from Pastor Harms. He is familiar with Joel and all the Old Testament Prophets (Jack, Bobby, Lou).

  8. Peter the Mudie says

    The Black Duck Talent Centre at Bassendean has kept the WAFL credible for yonks and they aren’t frightened to call a Royal an EGirl on the scoreboard either. Be that as it may, Neil’s focus on Craig’s clogging of the back line was spot-on – I thought they were just positioning Whats to be in the frame to up his profile a bit before trading time. Boy was that the wrong move – quite right, might as well have plunked a witches hat back there.

  9. Chris Weaver says

    Jesus wept…

    I’m not sure what’s worse. The hubris of the author, who follows a club yet to make so much as a Grand Final in its two decades in the competition…or Dave’s condescension towards Melbourne fans (thanks, Dave – but we don’t need you speaking on our behalf. We don’t have to justify our existence or presence to anyone).

    Quite regularly, some smart-arse appears on this website calling for a Dr Kevorkian-style euthanasia of the Melbourne Football Club. It’s about as common, predictable and derivative as the Footy Almanac’s Geelong fans comparing Stevie J to a deity.

    We’ve been down for a long time and we get support from the AFL. A bit like Fremantle did a decade ago when they had a $7 million debt and couldn’t service their AFL licence payments. The elixir for Fremantle was developing a competitive team, because for all the piss and wind about revenue streams and financial performance, it’s performing well on the field that turns clubs around.

    We’ll likely struggle for a few years yet too. Our footy department has made some appalling decisions since 2007, making it necessary to rebuild the club several times. But footy is still a cyclical game, thanks to the National Draft and the salary cap. Three years ago, Richmond were being decried as the worst team since Fitzroy’s demise. Now they are a 13-7 side about to embark on a finals campaign. Excellent sides take years to build, but the progression is never linear or stable.

    To the game itself – I thought Fremantle were totally professional and clinical in their approach. Against a bad side on a windy day, they could have either played within themselves or begun to lairise. Instead, they played smart, hard-running footy with players working the ball accurately by foot through the corridor, constantly pressuring Melbourne into errors. The goalkicking of Pavlich, Ballantyne and Mayne was superb – they judged a strong, swirling wind expertly. Crowley meantime did a wonderful job stopping Nathan Jones (his 13 disposals was his lowest tally since 2010).

  10. Wonderful Mr Weaver. Compelling logic mixed with a bit of colourful engagement with the enemy.
    We need more like yourself here on the website – defending the indefensible.
    Welcome to Rorke’s Drift. I would give you some ammo, but I’m down to the last few rounds myself.
    Always need to keep one in the chamber in case the Purple Scum meet the Catporn Kids in the GF. Insufferable either way.

  11. Chris Weaver says

    A stiff round of ‘Men of Harlec’ will get us through.

    That and the Martini-Henry.

  12. Chris Weaver says

    Sorry, ‘Harlech’

  13. There are not enough opportunities to sing Men of Harlec.
    It is Wynnum-Manly’s club song as well – in the Queensland rugby league comp.

  14. “Front rank, reload, fire! Back rank, reload, fire!”

  15. David Zampatti says

    Not going to buy into the argument about whether Melbourne stands or falls (the AFL missed the opportunity to make its comp the best major league in the world, with all its clubs financially secure and marketable, when it didn’t reduce the number of Victorian clubs to six competing on an even playing field with each other and six interstate clubs in a wonderful 12-team comp – but that’s another story).

    All I’d say is the pathetic jockeying for position by minor WAFL clubs like the Swans and,risibly, Claremont, and now the ludicrous suggestion by Baulderstone (whose nights must be haunted by questions like “Who would you rather be – John Worsfold or Brendan McCartney?”) that the odious East Perth and all-but-invisible Perth could somehow form an unholy alliance to field an AFL team, require neither respect or consideration.

    If Melbourne were to be “relocated” to the West (and, once again, I’m not advocating anything of the sort), the only viable option is that they be absorbed by West Perth who, after all, already have the appropriate club song and anthem and are ranked by all genuinely insightful followers of the game as the Greatest Club Ever To Play Australian Rules Football.

    Of course West Perth’s name could potentially cause some confusion, but I think it’s universally acknowledged that the West Coast Eagles have outlived their usefulness and our patience, and their deregistration would cause nothing but relief to everyone other than the journalists and umpires on their payroll.

    And if it puts Baulderstone and Melbourne’s scattering of surviving supporters out of their miseries (not that I’m advocating the dismantling of the Dees, of course), that’s a good, humane thing too.

  16. Ripsnorter says

    I think that Sergeant Major Lyon was heard at Rorke’s Drift to say that if we can learn and maintain a defensive structure and can bring in Private Dawson from my previous battalion we are half a chance here

  17. This thread is getting very Seinfeldian.
    More please.

  18. Chris Weaver says

    I’m won over.

    I’ll support Melbourne getting relocated to West Perth (home of many a migrant from the land of Rorke’s Drift) on three conditions:

    1. ‘Men of Harlech’ sung by the fans and players at the three-quarter time huddle;

    2. All club officials mandated to wear red coats and pith helmets as part of official match day attire; and

    3. Michael Caine named number one ticket-holder.

  19. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Competition Needs a competitive Melbourne geez Richmond have been v average for 3 decades and now they are competitive with a large following mind you I am lost on how to make Melb competitive Neeld was a stinker Trengove is a fine Player but under Neeld he along with most went significantly backwards hopefully Melb will come back comp needs them in Melb but if forced to relocate I would think Norwood would be best bit

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