Footy’s full of sorry streaks

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DEMON Sportshound LAWRENCE MONEY has endured more than his fair share of pain since the glory days of the 1950s and early 60s. In recent years the hurt has come in the form of the Shinboner Streak:

IT’S A CRUEL irony for Demon fans that the longest winning streak in the history of the Melbourne Football Club began with a win over North Melbourne.

That was way back in round 15 in 1955 during the Demons’ glory period when they appeared in seven consecutive grand finals, winning five. That streak-launching victory over the Roos (12.18 to 8.15) was followed by 18 more wins, the last being against Carlton in round 13, 1956 (another premiership year).

The ironical part is that, until this weekend when the Demons finally broke a 17-game losing streak against North Melbourne, the Roos held some sort of winning hoodoo over the Dees. Even when there was a spot in the finals at stake late last year, Melbourne lost again, as they had done against North Melbourne since 2006!

Does North still have a hoodoo over Melbourne? Pic: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images.
Does North still have a hoodoo over Melbourne? Pic: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images.

Worse. The Shinboners were among last year’s easy-beats, winning only six games and ending the season with a percentage of 87. But they weren’t easy-beats for Melbourne – two of those six Roo wins were against the hapless Dees.

Hoodoo losing streaks are a mystery. Some go on so long that the two clubs involved have replaced most of the players from the first losing encounter so, logically, this must involve more than the talent on the field. The hoodoo streak is a virus that seeps in to the club, infects everyone there and can hang around for years. As Brian Taylor puts it, “like pink-eye in my cat at home, very contagious”.

Then you have your losing streak in consecutive games to all-comers. That is even more demoralising and there have been some beauties over the journey. All-time champ is one of the original VFL clubs, University, with a phenomenal 51 losses in 51 consecutive games. That started with a 56-31 loss to St Kilda in round 4 of 1912 and finally ended after the Saints belted them again 93-52 in the last home-and-away match of 1914 (University’s final match in the VFL).

Maybe it’s karma but it is St Kilda which holds the most dismal loss record of the existing AFL clubs – 48 losses in 48 consecutive games stretching from the opening round of the 1897 season to the second-last match of 1899.

North Melbourne takes second and third prize — 35 outs from 35 games from 1933 to1935 — and 33 duds from 1930 to 1932.

Artwork: Gordon Napier www.gordonnapier.com

Even the three-peat Hawks have a stain on their illustrious history – they still hold the record for the most consecutive home games lost – 26. It was Carlton which started that dismal chapter for the Hawks back in the first round of 1926, downing the Hawkers 9-16 to 6-14 on their home patch. The boys from Glenferrie Oval lost the next 25 home games.

Jeff Kennett’s grandfather would not have been pleased.

Tony Leonard (2018): “Not only did he have the stuffing knocked out of him, the stuffing was put back and got knocked out of him again.”

Bruce McAvaney, channelling Dennis Cometti (2018): “Ball goes wide to Josh Caddy, quickly on to his boot ohhh…  that’s a Caddy shank isn’t it? Been dying to get that one in.”

The real Dennis Cometti (2006): “Eddie McGuire has an aura. I remember he asked his personal assistant, ‘Have you seen the letter opener?’ and she replied, ‘It’s his day off.’ I was impressed.”

Cameron Ling (2017): “Ambrose has to get some body on Buddy.”

 

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Author: Lawrence Money

Lawrence Money has twice been named Victoria’s best newspaper columnist by the Melbourne Press Club. He wrote columns for 37 years on the Melbourne Herald, Sunday Age and daily Age — and in Royalauto and Your Sport magazines — before retiring in 2016 after a 50-year career in journalism.
He still treads the speaking circuit, does radio gigs, tweets on @lozzacash and chases a long-gone 13 golf handicap. He clings to the eternal hope that the Melbourne Demons will once again win a flag.

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