“You can win without skill but you can’t win without spirit.” – Norm Smith

February 14, 2019 by · Leave a Comment
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2019 prelude – pre-season report

Nigel Dawe

“You can win without skill but you can’t win without spirit.” – Norm Smith.  Every football club is like a classic novel, whereby each decade might represent a chapter and each season could well be a page. That said, I’m thrilled to see what will soon be ‘written’ on the currently blank page that is season 2019 for us.

Whilst Round One outright represents the 2400th time our team has graced a VFL/AFL field, I’ve been suitably reflecting on the many whys –related to ‘absolutely’ why I go for Melbourne and what keeps me so enthralled with the every nuance and turn of this team – and primarily it is its history, its on-going story, a story that stretches farther back in time than any other team (of any code) in the world. Of course I more than fully appreciate seeing its future evolve and unfold but I just love acquainting myself with its past – delving into the tales, the records, the stats, facts and fascinating figures of not just the club’s shining stars but its lesser lights as well.

Take one of my ‘lesser known’ favourites for example – Artie Best, a bloke who hasn’t taken the field for 105 years and only played a dozen games – but in his very last game of VFL footy before bravely sailing off to the battlefields of WWI, he did what no one else in Melbourne colours had ever done and fair to say, will ever do again. Artie kicked the team’s entire score of 5.5 against South Melbourne (who were no light weights, being that year’s eventual runners -up).

Similarly, talking last appearances before never appearing in the red and blue ever again, if there was one game I’d like to see in our club’s entire history (besides the 1926 Grand Final) I know call me Dr Who now, but it would have to be Fred Fanning’s ‘big day out’ in 1947 and his mammoth return of 18 goals, 1 point in front of the sticks, which remains not just a club, but a competition record haul to this day. I’d also love to have seen his 105.5 metre roost at the MCG in the 1939 reserves Grand Final, one that landed him (with an accompanying sonic boom) into no less than the Guinness Book of Records for the longest kick of all-time.

And then there are some records or accolades that simply don’t reflect or do justice to what it is they were intended to honour, if not honourably commend. Take our great Robbie Flower’s ‘one’ solitary club best & fairest award (he also claimed 4 runner up mantles) but the fact he earned more Brownlow votes than any other Demons player (150 to be exact) highlights something I’ve never been able to reconcile.

Similarly the great Gary Ablett Snr only ever took out the one club best & fairest award in his whole career at Geelong, and this pair were perhaps the most mercurial players I’ve seen in the last 40 years. Maybe their brilliance was just expected and never came as a ‘surprise’ to those who ‘oversaw’ such things, I don’t know, and never will.

But isn’t that what makes our game so great and follow-able – the eternal subjective engagement and stimulation it offers each and every one of us without exception, it is an afforded ‘buy in’, a chance to share and partake each year over a lifetime in something absolute and grand, or as Oscar Wilde once so tellingly observed for particularly players and coaches, but also fans alike: “The world only belongs to you for a season.”

AFLW Win – Dees Cook Magpies’ Goose

February 14, 2019 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLW, NSW Demons 

Round 2 – Collingwood Vs Melbourne

Liam Chambers

After last week’s disappointing last quarter loss to Fremantle, the Dee’s bounced back to secure their first AFLW win for 2019. The two Team Captains Elise O’Dea & Shelly Scott have filled Daisy Pearce’s legendary boots to perfection. It’s never easy winning away from home and the blustery conditions added to the drama, making scoring opportunities all the more difficult. The 7000 plus crowd got a great evening of footy though. From the start the Dees were determined to make up for that agonizingly close loss to Freo.

Aliesha Newman, showing that she’s lost none of her speed, kicked a beautiful pass which Tegan Cunningham collected in a diving mark. Unfortunately, Tegan didn’t collect the six points. The first quarter ended all even at two points apiece. Melbourne should have been a few goals ahead but the Pies’ defence and the breeze kept their score down.

It looked like the second quarter would also be a low scoring affair until an inspirational kick from O’Dea and a kind bounce saw the Demons get their first goal in the last two minutes. Not to be outdone, the rising star Tyla Hanks (still only 18), pick up the ball on the run and banana kicked superbly to the grateful hands of Lauren Pearce. Pearce converted and the Dees were 16-2 going into the second half.

Game changer

The third quarter opened promisingly for Melbourne. Cunningham looked back to her winning ways with a lovely mark inside Collingwood’s 50. A one handed mark by Woodland show a nice confidence. Lauren Pearce had a 50 metre penalty awarded to her at the end of the quarter but a misunderstanding of the amount of time left saw her her handball rather than kick for goal. Only one point for the Dees in the third but Collingwood were scoreless.
Melbourne kept up the pressure at the start of the fourth and a tidy kick from Paxman was plucked out of the air by the talented Hanks, which she then converted for a perfect goal. With just over four minutes to go, Collingwood finally found the Dee’s goal, much to the home fans’ delight. Sarah Dargan soccer kicked it between Melbourne’s uprights but it was too late for the Pies.
The Dees won 26-9 and there’s a lot to like about this new line up. Best wishes to Daisy Pearce and the impending arrival of the twin bundles of joy.

Harriet Cordner continuing the family winning tradition.

Another goal

Pax kix

“In every angel, a demon hides, in every demon an angel strides…”

January 10, 2019 by · Leave a Comment
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So how could any modern-day, dyed in the wool Melbourne fan be anything but completely and utterly Dee-lighted with a Christmas stocking that is so jam-packed with such soul-soothing content as this!?

Nigel Dawe

Firstly an MFC membership package (for the 33rd year in a row – the great ‘Sugar’ Healy’s old number, not to mention our little soaring Grand Final forward ‘Wizard’ Farmer, now there’s a sign or two for you…) followed by a book about our immortal Dublin’s Jim, and then to ‘top it all off’ a shirt for the ages that stirringly says: ‘Keep your eye on the red and the blue” with a menacing pitchfork too – you have to admit, it is absolutely – die and happily go to heaven stuff!

Just to set the record straight, in no other realm of my existence do I believe in omens, superstitions, signs or anything that insinuates anything remotely reflective of divine interventional givens, but I am willing to stake my [beyond next season] credibility on the fact – that years that end in ‘9 have proven more than club defining ones in our team’s history.

Take ‘1939’ (which even finds its way into the ‘extended’ version, albeit the now long lost verse of our club’s theme song) – “well the team played fine in the year ’39” – that being a full 6 years after the game’s first ‘super-coach’ Checker Hughes famously asked, if not fumingly insisted of his then budding ‘Fuchsias’ at half time of a game to: “Lift your heads and start playing like DEMONS!” and peerlessly fearless Demons they would more than go on to become, taking out a three-peat of premierships in ’39-40-41. The fact Percy Beames was best on ground in all three of those Grand Final wins is a feat surely destined to never be emulated by anyone ever again.

Not to mention ‘1959’, the year our revered Demons cemented themselves in the game’s most elevated echelons as one of the greatest teams of all-time, forget about the adage of ‘one year to the next’, this was a coach of the century led ornament to the game, a side that could’ve actually claimed seven premierships in a row if not for the Grand Final losses of ’54 and ’58.

So without putting too much undue pressure on Simon Goodwin to follow in such ‘how fine are the years ending in 9’ suit, I reckon – and harshly mark and frog-march me away if I’m wrong – that our modern-day airs to the tenacity and spirit of Tommy Wills out there in the red and the blue are due for one hell of an almighty season. And just quietly, look out for the son of Todd, to further etch the Viney name in gold at the MCG with a Brownlow.

Ah, for better or worse – season 2019… here we come!

2019 will see Dees fulfil their destiny

October 28, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: NSW Demons 

Season Summary – 2018

By Liam Chambers

What a year 2018 turned out to be! There were moments of brilliance and dominance as well as disappointment until finally the team showed their true potential. When it again looked like the lads were off on an early holiday to the snow, they confounded the critics and reached their first finals in twelve years. After the initial shock of losing so badly to the West Coast Eagles in the preliminary final, Melbourne can now take stock. The Dees can look back on the 2018 season with justifiable pride.

There were some momentous games and a few we’d rather forget but Melbourne has continued it’s upward trajectory from the 2013 season when we only won two matches. After the disappointment of missing out on playing finals by the smallest percentage in AFL history in 2017, it looked like the Dees would fall agonisingly short again this year. We lost the game we had to win against the Sydney Swans in Round 21 but then we had a dream run of four games when it looked like we could go all the way.

The Preliminary Final loss to the Eagles in Perth will be debated for years to come but Melbourne will have learned a valuable lesson from the experience. I’m sure the players and coaching staff will watch that game many times during the pre-season preparation. It won’t be easy viewing but it will be essential viewing. I haven’t been able to watch it again yet. It will make the players mentally tougher and more determined in 2019.

With so much talent in the Dee’s side, they will be an exciting team to watch. When Max Gawn received the Keith Truscott Memorial Trophy he made an acceptance speech that was inspirational and insightful. He spoke about how well the team was working with the various coaching staff, modifying the style of play to improve their game and realise the team’s potential. He was humble and self effacing at times but he left no one in any doubt that Melbourne will be taking it up a notch next year. A player like Gawny can change the way a side thinks about itself when they’re behind in a game. Of course there is much more to the Dees but the players look up to him both literally and figuratively.

This team is getting the basics right and that’s essential. You can have a team of the most talented individuals in the AFL but everyone has to use that talent as part of a team. Natural flair is enhanced with practice and doing the basic stuff over and over until it’s like breathing. I watched an interview with Shane Warne recently. He was promoting his autobiography “No Spin” (great title). He spoke about how he would practice the same bowling techniques for hours at a time. He would set himself a target and wouldn’t stop until he achieved it three times. Sometimes it took 20 minutes; sometimes 3 hours. I think it was Gary Player who said “the harder I practice, the luckier I get”. Maybe Melbourne will be the luckiest team in the AFL next year.

2019 – AFLM

Of course we have a wealth of talent in our Casey Demons side as well. They have been superb this year and only just failed to secure their own Grand Final win. The Melbourne players that spend a few weeks in the Casey side often play in different positions and come back with a new perspective on the game. Casey Demons will continue to be hugely important to the Dees in 2019.

New players joining Melbourne will be Gold Coast defenders Steven May and Kade Kolodjashnij. North Melbourne ruckman Braydon Preuss will also join the Dees. Unfortunately, we are losing Jesse Hogan and Dean Kent and midfielder Dom Tyson.

2019 – AFLW

Well, it’s less than five months until the start of the new AFL season and before that we will have the AFLW games to look forward to. Unfortunately, while there will be two extra teams competing in 2019, there will still be the same number of games played. One of the reasons given is that they the AFL is building it up from the grass roots level and it will take time to establish the new competition. Also, traditional AFL fans will be slow to embrace a separate women’s game running alongside the men’s league. The potential danger though will be the best women athletes being attracted to other codes and the AFLW struggling to gain a foothold in the coming years. Let’s hope the issues can be sorted out quickly so the game can reach it’s full potential.

Go the Mighty Dees!

NSW Demons at the B&F

October 5, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: NSW Demons 

Stephen Rundle

First of all, I must thank the NSW Demons for the opportunity for myself and my wife Deb to attend this year’s B&F. I wasn’t aware that there was the possibility of winning a prize. I just wanted to help the club.

As for the night, it was excellent and a very slick production. It started at 7pm on the dot and finished exactly at 1130pm. We arrived about 15 minutes early and had the opportunity to see a lot of the team arrive. There were a few people there after autographs, which the players happily obliged but those who where attending gave them space. It was their night.

Pre-dinner drinks started at 7pm but it was so crowded that it was impossible to get close to the bar and most people went directly to their table. And for good reason. It was the largest number of people that had ever attended the B&F. Just over 1600 where there. That shows how successful the club has been this year. It was (I think) Peter Jackson who mentioned that at one time only 450 had attended. The NSW Dees where on table 106 (of about 178) right next to the Cheer Squad who where in fine voice.

As mentioned before, it was a very slick production. The food came out on time and hot, and was delicious. The drinks service was great and my glass wasn’t empty for too long. I call it the bottomless glass. Very dangerous for those not aware, and there where a few who got caught out.

The presentations of the awards where very fast. No speeches from most awardees. This was a bit strange to start off with until we realized that the event wouldn’t finish until 2am if everyone got a say. Speeches by Bernie Vince and the top 5 B&F winners only.

No rumors as such, just observations:

1. Neville Jetta and Christian Petracca where on crutches. Jesse Hogan was in a moon boot and the next day Clayton Oliver was going in for his first surgery for his shoulder.

2. This was Peter Jackson’s last night at the club and his affection for it showed through when he teared up a couple of times during his farewell speech.

3. The most popular players where Neville Jetta and big Max. Both standing ovations.

4. Bernie Vince was very cheeky with his speech and I’m still not sure if he meant to say what he did or it was an accident. He was however well received by all.

5. Max Gawn may have let the cat out of the bag during his acceptance speech and he thanked his girlfriend and said he is looking forward to the rest of their lives together. I think everyone thought he might go down on one knee but it didn’t happen.

6. The loss to West Coast is still hurting and the players are determined to go one better next year. They are keen to get back in to training and aren’t been complacent about getting in the top 8 next year. They know they have to work hard.

7. There was a lot of love, enthusiasm and a faith that we are going in the right direction and going about it the right way.

I recommend that everyone should try and get to a least one B&F and maybe book early next year. I don’t think the room could fit many more, especially if we are in and win the GF.

Many Thanks

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