Greetings, fellow Magpies. And a Happy New Year to you all!
Is it just me, or is this place a bit dusty right about now?
With the bulk of the long hot Aussie summer behind us and the start of a new football season getting ever closer, I thought now would be as good a time as any to throw open the curtains and revive TCB from its state of off-season hibernation by starting a new thread for discussion. Especially with our first hitout in the AFL’s glorified practice match series approaching at a rate of knots.
Please forgive me for the somewhat shabby nature of this entry. It is, after all, merely designed to jump-start the place, not provide anything resembling the kind of in-depth analysis that our blogmaster is renowned for. And while I think my skills as a writer have improved substantially in the time I have been here, soaking up JB’s work like a sponge, I simply do not (and doubt I ever will) have his apt for weaving all the different strands together as flawlessly as those industrial cables that hold up chasm-spanding suspension bridges.
Speaking of The Maker, before I go on, I might just make a (belated) comment about the change in decor around here. Sorry JB, but I can’t particularly say I’m a fan. It’s just too… well, white. It reminds me of the modernist kitchens you would find in those fancy new apartments that go up in the Melbourne CBD. The ones that you have to sell your soul to buy. Or, in the case of accountants and lawyers, issue yet another IOU. Although, our host does re-assure me that the bookcase behind which my access point down to the Cave resides is still here, albeit with the opening switch now contained inside a bronze cast bust of Napoleon instead of the resin flea market job of Bill Shakespeare…
I must say, I’m more of a purist myself, in that I prefer hiding the entrance behind a grandfather clock inside the study, with either a sharp tug of the pendulum or a setting of the hands to 10:47 causing the monolithic timepiece to slide back to reveal a staircase chiseled out of the limestone rather than a fireman’s pole providing entry to the cave below. As any child of the 90s would understand, my views and preferences towards my totem character are of the Dark Deco persuasion.
Mind you, I did once experiment with a metal tube slide hidden underneath an iron maiden with the opening switch concealed inside a model mansion at the bottom of a fish tank, but I got sick of putting my jackets back on with a wet forearm. That and the risk of sneezing whilst actually inside the maiden in the moments before the spikes retract made it more hassle than what it was worth. Shame, really. I used to get a kick out of going down that slide in the dark…
But, enough of that. Back to the real stuff.
So, we had our intra-club last week. Personally, I don’t really get excited at the prospect of Magpies playing on other Magpies and find the publicity campaign the club goes on with every year to build these things up rather cringey. That being said, I won’t ever say no to a live video stream and replay of a glorified training session when they are on offer (just as I will never say no to a VFL replay when the club media team can actually be f*cking bothered putting them up), so I did cast a lazy eye at the proceedings last Wednesday night, mirroring the footage from the club app on my phone to the television. Isn’t modern technology such a wonderful thing?
Again, I don’t care to put much stock in form shown in these games (I was proudly in the minority on Corey Gault this time last year, a minority that soon found itself back in the majority and ahead of the actual club on just what to do with the young man). But I do concur with some of the main takeaways, namely over the likes of Messers Scharenberg, Ramsay, Elliott, Daicos, Hoskin-Elliott, Phillips and Adams. They were varying degrees of good or very good. And of course, the usual suspects at the top of the food chain got through with the kind of form you would expect. Best of all, nobody was maimed in the course of the proceedings, which makes for a pleasant change. And in the case of Messers Scharenberg, Ramsay and Elliott, all three got through unscathed in their first semi-sorta-competitve hitouts on return from long injury layoffs. The first two are longer term investments, while Elliott will be something of an indicator as to whether this five year period of regression continues into a sixth season, the trend line plateaus or if the worm actually does finally turn.
So, with the JLT Community Series (I care less for the new name than I did the old one) now upon us, it begs the question of just how many of these youngsters will take the field on Thursday night, along with some of the other imports and seniors? Especially considering that we will have a week off afterwards, before resuming the pre-season campaign in Mandurah (I hate stop-starting these things like that). History tells us that the club likes to build up with the course of each game, gradually adding more and more components of what would resemble our best side, so it follows that we can expect to see a very young side against the Bombers, with probably a sprinkling of seniors to provide some leadership. Already, the media are predicting a squad of “Baby Magpies”.
Following in the spirit of my indifference to intra-club showings, there’s generally not much you can read into pre-season practice match form. I think I’m in the majority when I say that injuries (or lack thereof) are the primary indicator of success in these things, with some semblance of structure/ball movement/gameplan/lessons learned also something desirable to see. A small part of me would enjoy seeing our B team upstage Essendon’s triumphant return party for their suspended drug cheats, but after the events of last year, I’m not particularly keen for us to be pre-season champions only to crash and burn in the regular season once again.
So, with that off my chest and the joint humming back to life again (or at least, I think that sound is a humming motor sound), I’ll turn the conversation over to you…