Floreat Pica Society Round 5 Debacle

by Mark O’Connell (with Timothy O’Leary’s Danny Roach Medal votes following)


I like, so many thousands of others, left the MCG wondering how we lost and why we put ourselves through such misery time and time again. However, I have a painful duty to perform so I will to review the game as dispassionately as I can and try to see it through somewhat neutral eyes. It is slightly easier now that I have had two good nights sleep rather that the couple of hours I had before a 3.15 rise for the Dawn Service.

Report – ANZAC XV

What a day and what a game!

Not since the draw in 1995 has there been as exciting a game on ANZAC Day. Fans Australia wide, in addition to the 84,000 present were glued to one of the great sporting contests that you could see anywhere in the world. A match that saw both sides make countless mistakes under the pressure of the occasion but continue to fight to the death (almost) as is the obligation that goes with selection to play in this match.

ANZAC XV I will call it. I have seen every one of them. For the past eight encounters I have begun the day with my cousin Noel at the Dawn service at the Shrine of Remembrance. For those who have not ever attended, I recommend it to you.

The game began the way football used to be played. Two contested marks by forwards and two goals. Sadly neither Rocca nor Macaffer would have any further influence on the game. Rocca could have had the last laugh but was penalized a free kick and 50 metres late in the game. I have not seen a replay still but the decision on the day looked very dodgy to me. After the first two majors Essendon had plenty of chances but had 5 behinds only to show for their efforts. Goals later to Medhurst and Cloke gave us the ascendancy at quarter time.

The second term saw Essendon quickly get back on level terms largely due to an inept five minute spell by Cox who failed miserably in marking contests against Lovett and Lonergan (resulting in two goals) then kicked out on the full under little pressure. I had become a bit of a fan of his so hopefully he can bounce back. He reminds me quite a bit of Medallion Club Mick. It took till beyond the 20 minute mark for Anthony to register our first major of the quarter and he followed up with another shortly after (with a rare miss in between). Annoyingly most of Essendon’s goals were long range efforts which just managed to sail through. All square at half time and with Essendon having two wounded soldiers, Major General Malthouse would have declared the contest all but over.

The third term was a very disappointing one as the bombers threw caution to the wind and played on at all costs threw the middle while we continued a stop-start possession game around the flanks. We looked like we might be blown away but the tricky breeze helped push several Essendon shots off course. Twenty-two of the games behinds were at this end compared to nine at the other. We had no idea in both the first and third terms how to penetrate the Essendon zone when kicking in from a behind and very rarely crossed the centre with clean possession. At least the last few minutes of the term saw us attacking partly due a defensive mindset taken on by Essendon which resulted in shots at goal to Medhurst and Beams with the latter miss after the siren being a real disappointment.

The last quarter saw us take control of the game and move to what would normally be a match-winning lead. The mistakes in the last few minutes have already been highlighted by others particularly the kick forward by Pendlebury (though where were the short defensive options?) and the kick-in by Lockyer when we had amazingly forced a behind when a goal seemed a certainty.

A few other observations on the last term

It is probably expecting too much of Leigh Brown to step up as a match winner on the big stage. He did well to have three shots at goal but annoyingly kicked off only about two steps for the last attempt.

Martin Clarke produced a great effort to run forward to get his goal scoring chance. Unfortunately he fumbled initially which then led to him kicking around the body. He had a good game and is the only defender who looks for the option through the centre when clearing from defensive 50.

I said to Michael White at three quarter time that Malthouse should get Rocca in the ruck for a few minutes to challenge and run as hard as he could and then get off. Fraser reminded me of Thompson at the end of his career the way he was loping around.

Votes for the Horsburgh:

3 votes

Leon Davis

A sensational game all round despite a couple of mistakes. But for the last few minutes he would have been called the match winner. Absolutely brilliant. 32 possessions, 8 marks, 7 tackles and 2 goals 2, he lit up on the biggest stage.

2 votes

Dane Swan

Clearly our best when we were under the pump in the middle terms but turned it over a few times and refuses to take a set shot at goal. Great game.

1 vote

Scott Pendlebury

Great start and pretty good finish but had a few flat spots. Good game overall

Honourable mentions to O’Brien. Clarke , Presti, Anthony and (believe it or not) Toovey.

Digressing for a moment, two disturbing new trends have emerged at the MCG

1. Continuous betting updates on the scoreboard at each change.

This is most inappropriate and anyone who thinks this can no have influence on the game is kidding themselves. It’s a bit like when the TV stations have phone polls and then give progess results as the night goes on. Piss it off.

1. Continuous dream-team update results on the scoreboard

This leads to the erroneous view among many supporters that these are the best players on the ground to that time. Piss it off.

Mark O’Connell

and the Danny Roach Medal votes from Timothy O’Leary

Rubbish (noun) worthless…

I could write a book here. Firstly, while we all know that Rocca’s (match-winning) goal should have stood, but in all honesty, Essendon deserved to win. Even had they lost the game, they could have walked off the ground with their heads held high, knowing that they had played in the spirit of the ANZACs.

We went into this game with three big outs; Shaw, Maxwell and Didak and the Bombers exploited our wobbly defence all day. The likes of Toovey, Goldsack, Cox and Barham all had shockers. Presti, Harry and Clarke accounted for themselves well, but also benefited from inaccurate kicking from Lloyd and Lucas.

Five Collingwood players can look Mick in the eye at training this week: the two abovementioned, as well as Pendles, Swan and Anthony. But how will Mick look himself in the eye this week: he was out-coached by Knights, who had convinced his players to run in numbers, go hard for the ball and run through the centre of the ground – they kept to this game-plan all day and not once did I feel that we had a game-plan.

The votes go to:

3. Josh Fraser. Disgraced himself in two areas: firstly, this was a chance for him to act as a Captain and lead by example. He failed at this task dreadfully. Secondly, when Hille left the ground, Fraser needed to take charge of the centre square and dominate. He also failed this task and instead of Collingwood exploiting a weakness and getting easy clearances, the Bombers number two ruckman stood up, turned the tables and won them the game. It’s that simple – we lost because Fraser couldn’t out-ruck a shorter, lighter, less-experienced player. All credit to Paddy Ryder – deserved winner of the medal.

2. Leon Davis. His over finessing and selfish use of the ball had earned him the two points long before he kicked the ball out of full with the resultant goal to the Bombers. Love his brilliance but should save that for when he’s inside our 50 metre arc. It’s the little things that win matches, which sadly, Leon and too many other players forgot (on Anzac day of all days).

1. Travis Cloke. Would have liked to have given one vote to most of the team. How could a mismatch of the shorter McPhee on Cloke go wrong? Admittedly the delivery was a shambles but there was not a sense of menace in our forward line until Jack started kicking truly. It reminded me of last year when Rocca was out injured and we didn’t seem to have a structure.

All up, our first-year players have excuses (Braham’s footskills are appalling but he’ll hopefully improve when he adjusts to the pace of the game and gains some composure) but the rest of them need what Tommy Hafey often prescribed: Take a good hard look at themselves!

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