Roller coaster, Dees style


by Simon Dobbie

All right. As everyone’s favourite Melbourne supporter, I’m sure you’ve all been waiting with baited breath for my take on the Geelong game and Bailey sacking. 

(deep breath)

Where do I start then? OK, the game. I am still speechless about it to be honest. The thought of it just prompts an involuntry shake of the head and a sick feeling in the stomach.

How could such a thing occur? This is a team that is still in the hunt for the finals (strange but true). Not a team at the bottom of the ladder with no talent or hopes for the future. How can they put up the second worst performance in the history of the VFL/AFL. In over 13,000 matches, only one other is worse. I’m shaking my head again just typing that out.

I dare say no Demons supporter will ever forget the result nor where they were as it unfolded. Like Kennedy’s assassination. Or September 11. I eventually had to turn it off. Life’s too short for sitting through something that just upsets you that much. I had a son who wanted to play at the park. It was a no-brainer really.

Alas, I caught the final score at about 4:45pm and had to sit down in shock. And of course only minutes later the texts starting coming in from friends and family. Some in commiseration. Some in shared bewilderment. But also plenty in jest. The son wanted me to watch him ride his bike. I happily switched my attention but the twisted feeling in my belly remained.

I deliberately avoided all the footy talkshows on Sunday and drifted over the relevant articles in the newspaper. I knew untold angst would be delivered if I delved too deep into it. I hadn’t really taken it all in yet so immersing myself in the torment and the drama just wasn’t worth it.

Come Sunday night, I had watched something (was still in a zombie state) before switching on to ABC 24. And the first thing that I read across the bottom of the screen was that Dean Bailey had been sacked. I should have been engaged by it. I should have felt something. But I didn’t. I knew Monday morning was around the corner and there’d be plenty of time for analysis and discussion then.

Quite frankly, I was still in shock from the result. Deflated. Confused. I just couldn’t contemplate what it should mean just yet. I needed time to heal. Time to get some closure on what had happened on Saturday afternoon.

The media frenzy was in overdrive once the working week started though. I couldn’t avoid it any longer and begrudgingly looked up the various AFL news sites and even logged on to a couple of Demons fansites. None of them were pretty. Some of the comments were just plain crap though and of course plenty of non-Melbourne people were lining up to take pot shots based on speculation and rumour.

That made me angry. Finally I was feeling something again. The passion had returned and it was time to sort out my feelings on it all. I watched the press conference live with my earphones plugged into my work computer. I commented on some of the fansites and even took a couple of journalists to task via email for their blatant generalisations and base untruths. I was back.

But enough about me. What about the sacking? And what about the club?

Firstly, it was really sad to see Jimmy Stynes struggling with his health so much during the press conference. He’s been an absolute inspiration in the way he has turned the Melbourne Football Club around while also fighting his own problems. As much as the club needs him right now, perhaps we need to let him go and concentrate solely on his health. He has a real life-and-death struggle in front of him. Not like all the hyperbole going around in the media about the club at the moment.

The sacking then? Well, I didn’t think Bailey should coach us next year anyway as I’ve never thought he’ll be our next premiership coach. In many ways, he was always going to be the sacrificial lamb one day. He was recruited to take the team through a development phase and unless he delivered a miracle, like taking us from last to first in only a few short years, he was probably always going to be replaced by someone else once the team plateaued a bit. Once it was deemed we needed someone else who could take us to the next level.

Now I don’t want to come across as anti-Bailey. He’s done the job asked of him up to now and always put the club first. Sometimes at a risk to his reputation. And sometimes at a risk to his sanity no doubt. But there were a number of issues for mine from a pure coaching standpoint.

No. 1, the team has been playing with no game plan. Unless its a free-for-all with the ball travelling easily from end to end, the Demons have looked confused and unsure of what to do, particularly against a well-organised forward press. That must put the coach in a negative light as it’s his role to instill a game plan and a sense of purpose in the players.

No. 2, Bailey’s game-day tactical nous must be called into question. Time and again moves were not made or were made far too late. Cloke had kicked 6 goals on Rivers mid-way into the second quarter on the Queens Bday before the move was made to put Frawley on him. Cloke only kicked one goal after that but the game was already over. That’s just an example of many similar gameday issues I’ve had throughout the year.

And No. 3, the lack of on-field leadership has been a serious concern and is one that a good coach should have addressed a long time ago. Yes, it’s a young team but there are a number of senior players who seem to go missing when the heat is on. It’s certainly a sad reflection that our best players on the weekend were some of the youngest – Jordie McKenzie, Jack Trengove, Jack Watts, James Frawley.

Time and again the team gets blown away in the second half of a game and no-one is willing to stand up and say enough is enough. To go and make sure they win the next clearance. To go and make sure the next tackle sticks. To go and make sure the next goal is kicked by us. While the senior players are also at fault for this, I count this as a big slight on the coach for not doing something about it after bringing on those senior players and after four years at the club.

Regarding the backroom and boardroom issues that have been mentioned in the media, I’m not privy to any of it so I can’t give any meaningful comment. None of us know the inner workings of the club or the exact relationships between the key people.

But if it is true that the players were unhappy about a few things and struggled to get their minds right for the game on Saturday as a result. Well, I just shake my head in shock and disbelief once again. And may well shed a tear for the club I love and for some of the people in it that I admire.

Yes, the players should definitely not get off scot free with all this as the performance against Geelong was disgraceful and they must take responsibilty for their actions, or lack thereof. Their integrity and their professionalism have been called into question. And not just by the media and opposition supporters, but by their own as well.

A week’s a long time in football as they say though. And it would be typical of this roller coaster year for the Demons to come out and beat Carlton on Saturday after all the turmoil. Especially as some revenge must be sought after some Blues players called our style ‘bruise-free’ last time. The ultimate backhander by my reckoning.

Geez, I hope they do come out with something special then. Something to make us supporters proud once again. Something to shut all the naysayers up and quiet down the rumourmill.

But especially something that will make it too hard for me to turn the TV off and go to the park with my son.

You can find “Nah Seriously” the blog of Simon Dobbie, aka EveryDayMan, here.


  1. A sane voice in a house of madness.
    Keep the faith. God knows the Demons need it.

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