Vale Ron Barassi

September 20, 2023 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLM, NSW Demons, Our history 
RDB in full flight

Ronald Dale Barassi – the greatest of them all.

Nigel Dawe

“O Captain! My Captain! rise up and hear the bells; Rise up – for you the flag is flung – for you the bugle trills… For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning; … The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done, From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won.” (Walt Whitman)

FEW people from any era, the world over, ever attain the status of icon, let alone ever becoming synonymous with their chosen, albeit God-given talent for a vocation they come to define, altering its entire landscape through their deeds in such a way that it is never the same again.

Bradman was one, Einstein another; individuals that represent the unsurpassable pinnacle of some given branch of human endeavour. In our code of football, none encapsulate the essence, soul or mythical substance of the game itself at the highest level more than Ronald Dale Barassi Jr.

Everything about this legendary figure reads like a tale of fantastically crafted fiction; from living under the same roof as the equally immortal Norm Smith, to playing and starring in six premierships for the club (a period uneclipsed by any other side in all of the sport’s history) to wholly embodying the tenacity, grit and commitment it takes to reach the top in a sport that plays no favourites, let alone bless a player in such a way as it did our ultimate strong heeled General – Ron Barassi.

Wearing the same number (31) as his war hero and premiership winning father; the legend that is Barassi Jr will forever far exceed the capacity of any of us to remotely convey even the broadest sweep of it. That said, one of my favourite and earliest footy tales pertains to the game’s first ruck-rover (fancy there being no position as such, prior to your involvement in a sport?) But years ago, I remember hearing the yarn about someone ducking and weaving through the mystical halls of heaven in a red and blue guernsey that had the number 31 on its back… it merely turned-out being Jesus Christ – making out that he was Ron Barassi!

The fact our club’s greatest and most celebrated warrior passed away the very day after a heartbreaking loss in a final, is testament that football is rarely a place for genteel swan songs or fairy tales, if not ones that end perfectly for their heroes every time. It is however a place for deeds that demand recalling season after season so that they might remain fresh and vibrant, and live long in the minds of us all.

There isn’t always glory in triumph, but there can often be the purest tinge of glory in defeat; and the laurel of having not given up, is one more pristine and worthy of a champion’s brow than the one given for having won without exceeding extremes. As such, my favourite picture of Barassi, is the airborne one of him in the 1961 Preliminary Final, clearly doing all he could to will a win that would’ve put his side into a record 8th straight Grand Final – that wasn’t to be – but his clear weight-of-the-world expression seems to encapsulate for all-time what being an all-time great means.

I didn’t know Barass, in fact I only ever met him the once, after sneaking out of my workplace for a book signing of his at Dymocks years ago. But I remember saying to him that I wish I were born many years before I actually was, just to have been able to see him play; and to this day that would certainly be one of my wishes if I were ever granted three by some unbottled and bestowing genie.

One thing I also would’ve loved to have done, and genuinely wish that I had, would be to sit in a deserted MCG with Ron and ask what came to mind when he looked out over that hallowed ground. Because for many of us, it is a fully sanctified field of dreams, but for fortune’s most favoured number 31, it must’ve surely been something infinitely more – something akin to a physical realm of pure realised dreams.

Rest In Peace Ronald Dale Barassi, there will never be a more worthy or true warrior-like flag bearer of the grand old flag than you!

What a mark!

Swans Dive at SCG

September 6, 2023 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLM, NSW Demons 

Round 24 – Sydney V Melbourne

Liam Chambers

The Swans start strongly.

Sydney had everything to play for; sixth spot and a home game for their elimination final. The Dees, on the other hand, had already locked in number four on the ladder with the top three positions settled whether we win or lose. A victory though, albeit symbolic, would also be a statement to the other finalists, that the Demons are serious contenders.

The Swans made their intentions clear from the start and brought the game to Melbourne. Logan McDonald scored Sydney’s first, after ten minutes of play, with his 20m set shot.

Bailey Fritsch announced his return from injury with a nicely taken contested mark before slotting the set shot from 45m.

The reply from Sydney came quickly with Errol Gulden receiving a hand pass as he sprinted down the ground. He launched from 50m sending the sherrin straight through the uprights.

Any expectations that Fritsch would have a quiet game after his enforced hiatus were quickly put to bed when he slotted his second from 30m after being a awarded a free kick. Jake Melksham had the Dees in front when he marked the ball on the edge of the square, then ran around to snap it through.

Melbourne build momentum.

After a fairly even first term, the second quarter started in a similar fashion, with neither side gaining the upper hand. Finally though, Sydney took back the lead when Callum Mills’ running kick from 45m sailed through.

Jake Melksham continued his good form with a contested mark, then went back to nail the set shot from just inside 50.

Then, in the shadow of half time, Angus Brayshaw was able to get a kick away, through traffic, from 40m out. The ball landed just over the line, evading the last gasp effort of the Swans’ defender.

The Swans make a break for it but are eventually reeled back in.

Undoubtably Melbourne had the best of the first half, preventing Sydney from taking control of the match. The pressure of expectation to secure a home final would also have weighed heavily on the Swans and they urgently needed to up the desperation stakes.

Both sides came out looking determined after the break, but it was first blood to Sydney after Sam Wicks’ mid-air soccer kick from the goal square hit the back of the metaphorical net. Then Hayden Mclean made it back to back goals for the Swans when his 50m set shot from deep in the pocket hit the target.

Directly after the clearance, the ball was back in Sydney’s forward 50 where Callum Mills marked, then passed to Errol Gulden, who again happened to be running past. The midfielder launched from the 50m arc to make it three in a row for the hosts.

The Swans were piling the pressure on Melbourne in a desperate attempt to take advantage of the momentum they’d created after their opening minutes ambush. The tactic paid off with a fourth goal for Sydney when Chad Warner’s set shot from 45m split the middle.

In fact it was beginning to look like plain sailing for Sydney, especially when Bailey Fritsch limped off to have his injured foot checked out by the medical team. To compound the injury woes, Jake Melksham also made his way to the sidelines with a suspected knee injury.

Then just when the situation for the Dees was looking it’s darkest, Christian Petracca burst through the pack and across the 50m line, to launch a bullet from 45m. The ball sailed over the top of the Swans’ defence to give Melbourne their first goal of the quarter.

The Demons’ cause received another boost, with forty seconds left on the clock, after Kozzie Pickett jumped to take a contested mark 30m from home. His subsequent set shot just slipped inside the left hand upright, and it was a four point game.

Melbourne shatters the Swans home final aspirations.

The Dees came out at the start of the last term with the look of a team hell bent on sending a message to the other sides in the top eight. They were not there just to make up the numbers.

Bailey Fritsch was back on the ground and looked even more determined to send his own message. He took his third inside 50 mark for the game and made it three goals from three set shots with his kick from 48m.

The Dees were back in front and pressing their advantage with Sydney frantically defending against the visitors’ onslaught.

They valiantly protected the goal area but were unable to find anything against Jacob van Rooyen’s excellent contested mark to the left of the square and his around the corner set shot kick which put Melbourne ten points ahead.

Sydney then proceeded to embark on a counter offensive but were unable to break through the Dees defence before Melbourne wrested back control, with Bailey Fritsch scoring his fourth from an around the corner snap 25m from goal. The high scoring forward wasn’t finished yet and he slotted a fifth after his 40m snap hit the bullseye.

With just over three minutes remaining, there was no coming back for the Swans.

It was a bittersweet victory however, as it’s since been confirmed that Jake Melksham’s injury is an ACL tear, meaning he misses yet another finals campaign. Sad news indeed for Melbourne fans.

However, we next take on the Pies for a chance to automatically go through to a preliminary final.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!

Dees Go Fourth

August 25, 2023 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: NSW Demons 

Round 23 – Melbourne V Hawthorn

Liam Chambers

Dees Go Fourth

Hawks get off to a flying start.

Late to the party Hawks have caused a couple of big name upsets in the last two weeks. They would be hoping to add Melbourne to that list as they raced to the finish line.

The visitors were off to the perfect start when Will Day received a hand pass in the square and smashed the sherrin over the line. Luke Breust then collected the tap down before running around and kicking from 20m, landing the ball in the square, where it bounced over Lachie Hunter, who was unlucky not to get a touch as it sailed past.

Hawthorn’s pressure was so impressive, it took the Dees over fifteen minutes to score their first goal. It happened when Joel Smith received a hand pass form Kade Chandler at the top of the square and just managed to kick the ball over the line before being brought down.

The Hawks then had their third when Connor McDonald was paid a mark 25m out and scored from the set shot.

With just over two minutes left on the clock, it looked like being a low scoring quarter for the Demons. That was until Angus Brayshaw launched from the 50m arc to steer the ball over the goal line.

After that Jacob van Rooyen marked inside 50, was awarded a 50m penalty, and scored from point blank range to level the game.

Hawthorn had the last say though when first gamer Henry Hustwaite was awarded a free kick and scored from 30m in front.

Melksham makes his move.

Melbourne was being put through their paces by the young Hawks, but they finally got the opening goal, when Kade Chandler marked in the square. The small forward went back to slot his twenty fifth of the season and put the Dees in front for the first time.

Jake Melksham has been highly influential since his return to the top flight and already had a few chances go astray earlier in the match. Odds on though, if you present him with enough chances, you’ll get a decent return on your investment. His opportunistic soccer kick from the edge of the square was perfectly timed.

Hustwaite was having a dream debut when he kicked his second goal after marking and scoring from 40m. Hawthorn reclaimed the lead when Denver Grainger-Barras marked 45m out and kicked his set shot from the arc.

The Dees were back in front just prior to half time when Jake Melksham marked in the pocket and sent his around the corner kick through the posts.

The Hawks prove difficult to shake off.

Tom Sparrow kicked the opener of the second half when Jack Viney passed him the ball after a stoppage, and he launched from 45m.

Hawthorn hit back straightaway after the bounce when Luke Breust marked, turned and snapped his second from 20m.

Melbourne extended their lead to eight points after Joel Smith’s set shot from 40m bent back beautifully to slip inside the upright.

Connor Macdonald then clawed it back to two points when he marked and converted his 40m set shot.

It ping ponged out to eight again with Melksham scoring his hat trick via a 20m snap.

The Dees now looked comfortably in control, having dominated inside 50 for the quarter, and when van Rooyen extended the lead further to fourteen points, it looked like Melbourne’s game for the taking.

Melbourne’s quality comes to the fore.

The Hawks hadn’t given up yet though and took control of the footy after the opening bounce, getting it inside 50, where Dylan Moore gathered and snapped it across the line.

It was a last hurrah for the Hawks, but it still took another ten minutes for Melbourne to get their first of the term after van Rooyen took a contested mark 25m out. His precise set shot returned Melbourne’s lead to thirteen.

The game was still open though, with Demons only kicking a couple of minor scores before they moved up a gear.

Clayton Oliver, playing only his second game after returning from injury, had been restricted by the Hawks all afternoon. They couldn’t restrict him for the whole game however, as he proved with a brilliant snap form then top of the goal square, after a stoppage.

Now with a twenty one point lead and under ten minutes on the clock, it was looking like a very difficult climb back for the young Hawthorn side.

If it looked difficult before, it seemed like a case of mission impossible after Christian Petracca’s superb individual effort from 30m out.

In the end, it was a twenty seven point win for Melbourne who also locked in fourth spot on the ladder. A fitting result for captain Max Gawn’s 200th game.

It’s the final game of the regular season on Sunday and we travel to Sydney. The Swans could potentially land the number five spot if they beat us and Carlton lose to GWS, so it still all to play for.
Bailey Fritsch is back and here’s hoping for a brace of goals on his return.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!

A Touch Too Much

August 18, 2023 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: NSW Demons 

Round 22 – Carlton V Melbourne

Liam Chambers

The soft call

What else was Caleb Marchbank going to say? The soft call should have been a goal, letting the review decide. Heartbreaking result for all Demon fans.

Sea of blue unable to swamp the Dees.

With Carlton coming off seven wins in a row, including the scalps of the top two sides. it was always going to be a close game.

From the first minute, the Blues were dominating territory, with Melbourne struggling to get clean possession. The Dees were locked into constant defence mode, dealing with successive waves of attack. For all Carlton’s pressure though, it took them seventeen minutes to land the first point.

Following that, Charlie Cameron had two set shots in two minutes, hitting the target with his second attempt. After the goal, Carlton continued to dominate, but no amount of pressure would translate into another major for the hosts.

Then, with a minute to go, Ed Langdon marked a Jake Melksham kick, right in the middle of the square. The wingman went back and kicked from 10m, putting Melbourne on the scoreboard for the first time in the match.

Melbourne makes some inroads.

In a high pressure first term, the Blues dominated inside 50s, but Melbourne absorbed the slings and arrows, before fighting back to make the most of their limited chances. However, the Dees were going to have to do something special in order to get numbers into their forward 50.

They did this early in the quarter, finding some space to make their way up the ground. Christian Petracca’s kick to Jake Melksham inside 50, gave the forward just enough time to collect, side step and get the ball to Kade Chandler, who then tapped it in from the goal square.

The second term was proving to be an even contest, with Melbourne spending more time inside 50 where they created some good opportunities. The sides were well matched and in top form but conversely, the few set shot chances presented at either end failed to hit the target.

Then Petracca had an opportunity from 40m, and he didn’t miss, taking the Dees’ lead to eight points.

Carlton clawed the margin back to three a few minutes later when Jack Martin converted his set shot from the pocket. With two minutes left in the half, Blake Acres marked directly in front. His 25m set shot was accurate, putting Carlton in front again.

Nothing to separate the sides.

After the main break, the Blues resumed their onslaught on Melbourne’s defence, with no let up in the intensity.

Again the Dees absorbed the pressure but eventually Carlton broke through when Patrick Cripps was awarded a free kick 20m in front. 

Trailing by nine points, Melbourne responded by swarming the Blues’ defence but without troubling the scoreboard too much. Unfortunately up the other end, Matthew Owies found himself with plenty of space inside 50 to mark Charlie Cameron’s kick from 60m. The tap in from the edge of the square increased Carlton’s advantage to fourteen points.

In a quick reply, Tom Sparrow launched a kick from 70m, landing the ball inside the goal square, where it bounced across the line. From a low scoring first half, suddenly it was four goals in quick succession, when Sam Docherty was able to collect the chaos ball in front of goal and chip it through the uprights.

Then, from a chaos ball at Carlton’s end, another one presented itself in front of Melbourne’s goal. There was three Demons in the square trying to control the sherrin with the rain falling and a general state of confusion in the air. As the ball bounced haphazardly, Petracca got the boot in and sent it across the line.

Following that combination of skill and luck, one of last week’s hat trick heroes, Alex Neal-Bullen, then took a mark deep in the pocket. Not normally associated with set shots from difficult angels, the tough midfielder went back and slotted the ball beautifully.

The contest couldn’t have been closer at three quarter time with the scores locked at forty two points apiece.

Carlton puts its hand out.

The Blues got the opening goal of the final term, shortly after the bounce, when Matthew Owies was able to pick up the ground ball and snap it in from 40m. It was two for Carlton in just over a minute when Tom De Koning marked the ball 20m in front and converted.

When Charlie Curnow marked and kicked the 50m set shot for his second goal of the game, it was looking extremely ominous for Melbourne.

We desperately needed a circuit breaker, and it was duly delivered in spectacular style. Kozzie Pickett was having a relatively quiet night, but that changed abruptly when he gathered the ball in the midst of a dozen players and somehow got a kick away. The untouched sherrin floated through the air and touched down just behind the goal line.

Two minutes later, Joel Smith took a mark in the pocket and slotted his set shot, making it a one goal game.

Both sides had their chances to add to the goal tally, but the scoreline remained tight.

It had been a highly competitive match, but the biggest drama was yet to come. Petracca marked just outside the arc, then ran around and kicked from 55m. The ball sailed high and long, just falling over the goal line. The Umpire called it a minor score, believing that the ball had been touched by the Carlton defender.

As is the case in the vast majority of the soft calls, the review went with the Umpire’s call, as there was insufficient evidence to show that Caleb Marchbank hadn’t touched the ball. Given the circumstances and the ruling in Carltons’ favour, it would have taken an incredibly brave defender to put his hand up (pardon the pun) and admit that he failed to make contact with the sherrin.

The loss has probably cost us second spot on the ladder. However, there are still two games to play in the regular season and we need to reset and focus on winning those matches.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!

There Are No Easy Games

August 11, 2023 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: NSW Demons 

Round 21 – North Melbourne V Melbourne

Liam Chambers

The Dees caught napping.

After four hard fought wins in the last month, Melbourne could be forgiven the assumption that Round 21 was in the bag. North have been struggling all season and even went down to bottom of the ladder West Coast last week. However, the Dees were surprised by the ferocity of the Roos attack in the first quarter and were on the back foot until midway through the second term.

North Melbourne had a few early chances which only resulted in minor scores, that seemingly didn’t bother the Demons too much.

Then up the other end, Kysaiah Pickett snapped from the pocket and managed to get the ball to land in the square, where it bounced across the goal line. It looked like the perfect start for Melbourne but instead it proved to be the lone highlight of the quarter for the visitors.

The Roos took the lead when veteran Todd Goldstein hit the target from directly in front. Shortly afterwards, Eddie Ford was awarded a free kick in a similar position, which he easily converted.
The young forward had a second less than a minute later, when he marked the ball 30m from goal.

With a fifteen point lead, North increased the pressure on the Dees defence, determined to make the most of their advantage. It paid off again when Bailey Scott took the mark and scored the Roos’ fourth from a 35m set shot.

All the momentum was with the home side and Melbourne was struggling to get back in the game. Even when they made it inside their forward 50, North quickly dealt with the attack and then countered.

The goal tsunami continued with Eddie Ford claiming his hat trick for the quarter when his running kick from 40m sailed through the uprights.

Getting the game back on their terms.

After being blown over by the North Melbourne whirlwind in the first term, the Dees were again unprepared at the start of the second.

Nick Larkey was able to take a contested mark 15m from goal, then go back for an easy set shot. The Roos were now thirty two points up and the shell shocked Melbourne fans could only look on in disbelief at the unfolding carnage. Nothing seemed to be going right for the Dees, with normally gettable shots going astray.

Finally though, Melbourne started to wake from the nightmare and make inroads towards scoring more goals. Kozzie Pickett had been threatening to get a second and he eventually did, in spectacular style. After picking up the ground ball, he found enough space to run, turn and snap cleanly, breaking the drought.

Harrison Petty showed last week that he can be a prolific marker and scorer in front of goal when the opportunity presents. This week he also showed that he can confidently take on the difficult kicks. His set shot from a tough angle, deep in the pocket was perfectly executed and the Demons were back in contention.

Melbourne was definitely in the ascendancy, but the Kangaroos bounced back briefly when Paul Curtis was able to get a boot to the loose ball in the goal square. The lead was back out to twenty eight points.

Thirty seconds later, it was back to twenty two when Alex Neal-Bullen, who never lets an opportunity go to waste, was able to tap in the wayward sherrin, as it bounced across his path.

The tide had well and truly turned. Now Melbourne were creating chances as a result of their elevated pressure and Kade Chandler was presented with one such scenario when he marked Ed Langdon’s centering kick. Chandler’s 45m set shot was perfect, further reducing the margin to sixteen points.

There was a hiccup in Melbourne’s renaissance when Todd Goldstein was awarded a 50m penalty, gifting him an easy scoring opportunity, which he converted.

However Chandler was again on hand to redress the balance a minute later, when he marked in the pocket and made no mistakes with the 40m set shot.

Pickett was having one of those games. His third goal was a combination of natural ability and technical brilliance. Having received the ball, he twisted and turned, wrong footing the defence, before kicking from 30m, deep in the pocket. After being thirty three points down twenty minutes earlier, Melbourne was now only trailing by ten, and there was still fifty seconds to go.

When Jacob van Rooyen ran out to mark the kick from James Jordan, there was fifteen seconds left on the clock, The young forward went back and waited for the siren to sound, then ran up and calmly slotted the 50m set shot.

The Demons assert themselves.

The second half started with Melbourne very much in control. However, it took the visitors almost fifteen minutes to score the opening goal, which they did when Harrison Petty took another mark deep in the left hand pocket.

The next major followed only a couple of minutes later when Christian Petracca marked a Pickett kick, 25m directly in front. Petracca had his second when he took a dramatic hanging mark in the pocket. His around the corner set shot was clinical. It was seven in a row for the Dees when Alex Neal-Bullen launched from the 50m arc, watching the ball dropped behind the goal line.

The Roos finally managed to momentarily stem the Demon tide when Jy Simpkin marked on the 50m line and converted his set shot.

It was a brief respite however, as van Rooyen was awarded a kick near the top of the square and kicked his second.  Alex Neal-Bullen then celebrated his trip to the Apple Isle with a 35m running kick, claiming his hat trick in the process.

Melbourne wrap it up in a low scoring final quarter.

Again, the opening ten minutes of the last term saw no goals added to the scoreline. As it happened, it was the Roos who kicked the opener when Curtis Taylor collected the ground ball and snapped from 20m to the left of goal.

In fact it took Melbourne nearly twenty five minutes to kick their only goal of the quarter when Kade Chandler’s set shot from 45m brought up his own hat trick.

Unfortunately Harrison Petty had to be subbed out due to an ankle injury which has ended his season, just when he was settling into his new role as goal kicker supreme. He will be sorely missed when our finals campaign starts but we have a depth of talent in the squad that can take on any challenge.

Next round it’s the resurgent Blues. Bring them on!

Go the Mighty Dees!!!

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