NAB Cup, Round 1: This competition doesn’t mean anything, does it?

By Steve Healy

After an exciting day at the footy with my Almanac Friends (Josh, Damo, Michael and Adam) there is nothing better than coming home to hear the Dees play Freo on the radio. Well, there might be, but on Sunday night it was the best option.

I get off the train at Darling station. I realise that I only have fifteen minutes to get home, or I’ll miss the start of the game. I make it home with two minutes to spare, grab my scoresheet, my radio and sit down on the dining table. (I’m not allowed in my room because my 12 year old brother is apparently trying to get to sleep).

The game begins, the Dees are kicking to the left of the radio dial. The sun is still shining at Subiaco. Martin contests the ruck contest with Sandilands; the Dees steam forward, Jurrah snaps one out of bounds. Not a good start. But it’s a slow start. The Dees fumble in defence, and concede a goal to Des Headland. Bradley snaps a point for the Dockers. Bennell kicks in for the Dees, and plays on by running around the post, conceding another behind. Trengove and Scully come on simultaneously, a moment that has the few Demons at Subiaco off their seats in anticipation. They both make an early influence with a couple of possessions each, Trengove receives a free kick and misses to put the Dees on the board after 13 minutes. Pick 50 Jack Fitzpatrick plays a cameo, receiving one kick before going off the ground to probably not return. The Dockers answer with goals from young gun Hayden Ballantyne, and rejuvenated forward Michael Johnson. The onslaught continues. Pavlich marks on the lead and kicks a goal, and the margin is 27 points. I’m wondering whether our season is over. Rivers adds another point to our score as the quarter time siren sounds. It’s 0.4.4 28 to 0.0.2 2. There are no real good signs for the Dees so far, apart from Trengove and Scully, along with Joel MacDonald, who is making an early influence.

The second quarter starts and Ballantyne kicks his second in an influence, he’s a little runt Ballantyne, he is the new Stephen Milne or Jake King. I consider pulling the ear phones out, but I know I don’t really because I love footy. Brad Green answers my prayers with a trademark goal on the run from outside 50, and the margin is back to 24 points. Johnson answers for the Dockers, but Davey picks up the ball with an open forward line in front of him, and bounces home a long super goal. Go Dees! 41-20.

The play of the quarter follows- Trengove taps the ball back into play; Maric receives it and hits Miller on the lead. He kicks a goal. Our future looks sure- Trengove with the class, Scully with the quick hands at stoppages. The quarter finishes with a touch-and-go super goal to Clancee Pearce right on the siren, which appeared to be after the buzzer. It really dampens my spirit. It’s 1.6.6 51 to 2.1.3 27. The Dees are still a chance, but the Dockers have the answers. Joel MacDonald has picked up 16 possessions for the Dees, while former Werribee player Michael Barlow for the Dockers has really excelled, giving the hint that Freo have the nailed the mature age rookie thing for two consecutive years. It’s time for left over take away pizza, yum. I’ve already eaten a lot at the footy so I’m stuffed when I finish it.

The third quarter starts, and the Dees can’t back up their second quarter form. Pavlich drills his second home, Jurrah misses an easy shot, who was lively but really having a shocker. Johnson kicks his third for the Dockers; Mayne runs through and kicks a goal, Sandilands marks on the tip of the square on consecutive occasions, on the first he inexcusably misses, the second he kicks straight through. It looks like Sandilands is set for another big season. The margin is at 49 points, but a little bit of remorse comes when Broughton smashes Petterd, and he goes back and kicks a goal. The siren sounds to end the quarter- The Dees trail 1.10.9 78 to 2.2.5 35. It’s not pretty even though the Dees are showing little glimpses.

The last quarter begins and all I can hope for is a competitive last term. Miller kicks his second goal, and a couple of behinds give a bit of substance on the scoreboard. Morton kicks one. Pavlich kicks his third for the Dockers, and Pearce and Headland kick goals to blow the margin back out. Jordie McKenzie kicks a point for the Dees and the junk time ends as the siren sounds. The Dees lose 1.13.10 97 to 2.4.8 50.

I turn my radio off and head for bed. I try and convince myself that this competition means nothing.

Fremantle  0.4.4  1.6.6 1.10.9 1.13.10 (97)

Melbourne  0.0.2 2.1.3 2.2.5 2.4.8 (50)

Super goals

Fremantle: Pearce.

Melbourne: Green, Davey.


Fremantle: Pavlich 3, Johnson 3, Headland 2, Ballantyne 2, Pearce, Mayne, Sandilands.

Melbourne: Miller 2, Petterd, Morton.


Fremantle: Duffield, Barlow, Pavlich, Hayden, Broughton, Pearce, Hasleby, Johnson.

Melbourne: MacDonald, McDonald, Green.

My Votes: 3. Paul Duffield (FRE), 2. Michael Barlow (FRE), 1. Matthew Pavlich (FRE).

Umpires: Margetts, Dalgleish, McInerney, Keating.    Crowd: 11,031 at Subiaco

About Steve Healy

Steve Healy is an entity of a Melbourne supporter.


  1. Richard Naco says

    The competition might mean nothing to you, Stevo, but the Melbourne Football Club clearly does. And despite conceding the W early on, you stayed tuned to the game to its bitter end.

    Mate, you are a legend!

    It’s people like you – people with passion, patience and bucketloads of personal integrity – that make our game the truly great spectacle that it has become. In 2005 and 2007 it was people like you, albeit wearing different uniforms, whose experience of the ultimate jubilation was immeasurably enhanced because they, like you are now, had endured literally decades of frustration and pure personal pain.

    It’s a bit like the party trick that some old Lebanese blokes do where they take a suck of a quarter of lemon and then immediately pop a sugar cube in to their mouths. The sweetness of the sugar explodes when it immediately follows the bitter sourness of the citrus.

    You, my friend, will one day get to experience that amazing burst of sweetness because of the fact that you will have stuck to your beloved Dees through thick and thin.

  2. Thanks Richard,

    I’m sure I will get the sweetness one day, and sticking with a club through tough times is certainly character-building

  3. Well yes it does mate, it’s worth 250 grand…….. i reckon its worth it

  4. Steve,

    Great article. I know it’s tough to stick it out to the end, listening to the radio for games like this (I did it this weekend just passed).

    I think it’s way too early to be worrying about your season being over. No one ever really knows who the genuine contenders will be until about Round 6 or 7. Look at Geeling in ’07! We started off the year deplorably, had a few good games when we had 3 key forwards playing, but for the most part we sucked. Then we had an epiphany.

    Now, I’m sorry to say this, but I doubt any team will ever recapture a year like ’07. Melbourne are probably still too young a list to really contend for the premiership this year, BUT … and this is important to note … I think Melbourne are going to have a good year, a heartening year, a year of producing some pretty sweet footy.

    They’ve clealy got it spot on with drafting Trengove and Scully. They are really, REALLY good catches. Melbourne is building a strong list, and now just need to work on getting some sort of consistency and experience in to the team.

    This is the fun time, when you see glimpses of a bright future ahead. This is exactly the sort of time in a club’s history that I wrote my first article on this site about.

    I wish the Dees all the best.

  5. And no, I don’t think this competition means anything. Heck, it’s nice if you win, and the prize money doesn’t suck, but no one cares about preseason premiers. It’s not the REAL season, it’s not a REAL premiership.

    Look at Carlton a few years back, they won preseason, then proceeded to win the wooden spoon.

    In the past four years, my club has won two preseason premierships and two real premierships. I can tell you: winning the preseason brings the same satisfaction as beating Collingwood or Hawthorn or whatever historical rival your club happens to play.

    Winning the Grand Final … it’s entirely in a class of its own. The home and away season is the only one that counts.

  6. John Butler says

    Hang in there Steve.

    Changing horses isn’t really an option anyway, you don’t sound like one of those “theatre goers”.

    I can certainly vouch that winning the NAB meant little for Carlton in the long term.

    Susie, careful about Cats ’07 statements. After ’95, Carlton folk were saying the same thing. You never know what’s around the corner.

  7. John, I didn’t mean to get anyone offside about that :P Just as I was starting to type Melbourne could have a year like Geelong in ’07, I realised it is probably not going to happen in ’10. But I’m all for teams producing stellar years like that, it’s good for football :-D

    I don’t doubt teams are capable of having stand-out seasons (statistically speaking, though, it is *unlikely* another team will come out of nowhere and sweep the pools again. But if they do, I sincerely hope it is Melbourne or Richmond :P)

  8. John Butler says

    Susie, no offence intended or taken.

    I was just reflecting that, if Carlton’s last 15 years mean anything, football’s glorious uncertainty should never be discounted.

  9. All good :-)

    That’s one of the many reasons why we love footy: nothing is set in stone, nothing can be taken for granted.

  10. Steve Healy says

    Thanks Susie and JB, you both make good points. I know what you mean though Susie, I’m not expecting anything that big from the Dees this year.

    Lowrie, great that you were on the Almanac in period 4 mate, hahaha, yeah the money is good but still, Its only the pre season at the end of the day.

  11. Susie – I’d like to point out that drafting Scully and Trengove is hardly an inditement of the skill of the Melbourne recruiters, since they were the hype players and it is likely every club would have done exactly the same thing. If at least 2 or 3 of Gysberts, Tapscott, Gawn and Fitzpatrick as well as maybe some of its rookie draft players turn out to be good players, then we can give credit to Dees recruiting department.

  12. Adam, last year the Dees chose Jack Watts over Naitanui. This year, they’ve actually used their picks to get the best on offer. That was my point.

  13. 12: I am intrigued to figure out if Watts will work out. He showed good signs against Essendon last year, but the Demons would look so much better right now if they had taken Daniel Rich, which means they could have nabbed John Butcher this year. But i guess the recruiters wouldn’t have known things would have worked out that way.

  14. Susie – Don’t immediately rule out Watts. He was combining his first season with his VCE studies last year, has put on a heap of bulk in the offseason, and is still only 18. There was a guy who got drafted with pick 1 by St Kilda a few years ago who played 6 games in his first season, looked very skinny and showed very little. Many years on, Nick Riewoldt is one of the best key forwards in the competition.

    Josh – Melbourne would have been stupid to pick Butcher with pick 2. There’s a reason he slipped through to pick 8. The only reason he may have gone higher is because of teams drafting for need.

  15. I stand by my comment that Melbourne will be have a promising year. That was the main jist to my ramblings. :p

  16. Steve Healy says

    The reason why John Butcher was picked at 8 was he performed averagely at the U18 championships. Don’t say Naitanui is better than Watts, Naitanui starred on Feb 12, but remember, it was only a nab cup game. Key forwards take a couple of years to develop, trust me, Watts will be kicking 30-40 goals a year soon.

    I dont think we needed Rich.

  17. Watts will be a good player, there is no doubt in that. But Melbourne lack players with that X-factor. Naitanui has X-factor by the truckload.

    I’m drawing a blank – who’s in Melbourne’s ruck?

  18. Stefan Martin, Mark Jamar, Paul Johnson.

  19. Steve Healy says

    We have heaps of ruckmen: Jamar, Johnson, Martin, Spencer, Meesen and Gawn and Fitzpatrick. Our ruck stocks are fine bar injury.

    Melbourne lack the X-factor? Have you heard of an L.Jurrah?

  20. Gawn, Fitzpatrick and Spencer will take a while to adjust, like all young Ruckmen do, and Meesen needs to get over his injury woes.

  21. I think Martin’s more of a defender.

  22. :O My bad. I forget Jurrah. Melbourne don’t need Naitanui :-)

  23. It’s funny, two of the three tallest players in the AFL are called Max. There isn’t any short players called Min though.

    Susie do you have facebook?

  24. Steve Healy says

    Martin won’t be used much as a backman this season Adam. Just a forward/ruck.

    Yeah Max Bailey and Max Gawn lol

  25. Steve Healy says

    22- So I take it that you forget a lot of Melbourne players?

  26. 25: Give me a break, LoL. I only just decided a year ago that I wanted to be a sports journo, and I only really started trying to learn about the players at other clubs at the beginning of this year.

    I mean, I knew the main players, the key faces, but not the bit players. I’m getting there ;-p

  27. Steve Healy says

    Interesting story, player knowlegde has always been just common sense to me.

    I wish you all the best

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