Adelaide v Melbourne – upstart Crows unable to restrain Dees

July 7, 2022 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLM, NSW Demons 
Dees winners in Adelaide

Liam Chambers

After last week’s emphatic win over Brisbane, the contest against the lower ranked Crows was always going to be interesting. Adelaide secured the narrowest of wins last season so the home fans would be hoping for a repeat result.

Initially it looked like it was going to be smooth sailing for the Demons. Ben Brown basically had the ball drop at his feet with all the clear space he needed to dribble it over the line for the first of the evening.

Adelaide was hemmed in behind their 50m line as Melbourne continued to attack the goal. Christian Petracca broke his five game drought when he collected a tap down and snapped the Dees’ second. Mitch Brown completed the trifecta and kicked his first goal of the year from a 50m set shot.

Adelaide finally got their first inside 50 and then kept the pressure up until Ben Keays took a mark 45m out, then turning and kicking the Crows’ first. The goal energised the fans and players alike and within a minute they had a second when Darcy Fogarty found enough space to snap from 30m. The Crows had a third when a dubious umpiring decision gave Tex Walker a free kick 25m from goal. Anyway, them’s the rules and now it was a tied game.

A minute later and Walker marked and kicked his second from 40m and Adelaide had the lead; a lead that was only fleeting though, as James Harmes restored scoreboard parity with his 30m set shot. Then with fifteen seconds to go, Petracca signaled the return of his goal kicking mojo when his 40m set shot sailed through. Bayley Fritsch almost snared another but his shot landed for a behind, just as the siren sounded.

After a high scoring first quarter, second term goals were proving hard to come by as both sides struggled to score a major. Melbourne had a few chances but could only land a couple of minors.

The first goal of the quarter finally came with four minutes to go. Riley Thilthorpe marked in the pocket and took his time to relax before kicking round the corner to bring the Crows back to within two points of Melbourne. The home side got a second within a minute, taking the lead after Wayne Milera was the last link in a handball chain, enabling him to run into an open goal.

Fortunately Clayton Oliver and Petracca combined beautifully again, allowing the Norm Smith medalist to kick from 45m and claim his hat trick.

As Melbourne began the second half with the tightest of leads, they were unlucky early on not to be another two goals up. It was semi permanent sub Toby Bedford who finally kicked the first goal, helping to cement his place in the top flight. The Dees’ had a ten point lead and looked more in control of the match.

Then Mitch Brown took a brilliant contested mark on the edge of the square and doubled his tally for the season. The Crows were making Melbourne play a scrappy game and the next goal exemplified the night’s footy. Bayley Fritsch was chasing the ball with the pack, trying to get a handle on it when Kysaiah Pickett flew in and soccered it off the ground.

Even with a four goal advantage, you knew Adelaide were just itching to hit back. It took until the last three minutes of the quarter but Jordon Dawson’s set shot from 25m had the Crows’ fans on their feet.

Adelaide had the best possible start to the final term as they won the bounce and got the ball to inside 50 where Rory Laird took possession and kicked from 30m to reduce the margin to eleven. The Crows were playing like a team possessed, piling on the pressure. It paid off when Ben Keays was awarded a free kick and converted for his second of the game.

Now it was a five point contest, with a nail biting twenty minutes to go. The Demons kept their composure though and went about chasing the next goal. It came via another superb Oliver handpass. This time Ed Langdon was the recipient and he chipped it from 20m and the ball bounced across the line.

Jack Viney seemed to be involved at nearly every stage of the next goal. He started by getting it out after the bounce, then combined with Charlie Spargo and Pickett to snap it from 30m and score.

Josh Rachelle kept it alive for the for the Crows with his mark and conversion from 25m but it was only a temporary respite. Within a minute, Tom Sparrow scored with a 30m running kick, reflecting the depth of talent in the Melbourne team.

It wouldn’t have been a proper final quarter without a Bayley Fritsch goal and he didn’t disappoint, kicking a set shot from 40m to give the Dees a four goal buffer. Then Ben Brown iced the cake with his set shot kick after the siren.

It had been a nerve racking final twenty minutes as the clock ticked down and the Crows came within touching distance but in the end it was a comfortable win.

We visit the Cattery for Round 17 and Geelong are in top form having won their last six games. We will need to pull out all the stops but these are the games that define us.

Go the mighty Dees!!!

Melbourne v Brisbane : Desperation successfully recaptured

July 2, 2022 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLM, NSW Demons 
Jack Viney at his best

Round 15

Liam Chambers

Unfortunately I didn’t have any internet connection on Thursday night so was unable to watch the Melbourne v Brisbane game live. Fortunately, I was able to successfully record the game the next day and have since watched it twice.

I woke up around 3am Friday morning and found the internet had returned, so first up I checked the previous night’s score on my phone. Initially I thought I was still dreaming or possibly hallucinating but no, we had basically annihilated Brisbane at the MCG.

I had expected a close game but this was the Dees at their premiership winning best. Jack Viney led from the front and the usual suspects, Angus Brayshaw and James Harmes etc played like their life depended on it. Luke Jackson filled Gawny’s big shoes without a bother. Steven May didn’t have a classic game but Jake Lever goes to another level when he has the big key defender alongside him. In fact all the back line were impressive.

The midfield was incredible and the forwards took their cues from what was happening behind them. Brisbane were not at their best but arguably Melbourne’s pressure really affected their game. Also, why is Toby Bedford not in the side every week? Great result lads!

The pre game pep talk looked promising, with an animated Jack Viney rallying the troops in the huddle. Melbourne was slow off the mark though, allowing Eric Hipwood to score the first goal from close quarters after the ball was turned over on the 50m line. After the bounce, Brisbane also looked impressive in defence, denying Bayley Fritsch a certain goal when he was run down on the edge of the square.

The Lions had the upper hand contesting marks early on. However they squandered chances, as first Joe Daniher and then Oscar McInerney missed relatively straightforward set shots. In the interest of fairness, Ben Brown also missed a set shot at the other end.

Melbourne finally got on the board after a messy build up in front of goal. Tom Sparrow slipped and slid but then found the target to make it a one point game. The Lions hit back immediately when Joe Daniher was awarded a free kick 30m from goal. Then Lincoln McCarthy made it three for Brisbane when his kick from 40m bounced across the line. Just before quarter time, James Harmes launched a high ball goalwards. A defensive error saw the mark taken just after it crossed the line and the goal stood.

With the Demons giving up big first quarter leads in their last three games, it was quietly reassuring to be trailing by six points; especially as the margin should have been greater in Brisbane’s favour. However, I did know the result as I was watched, so my hunch is/was irrelevant.

James Jordon scored another spectacular goal when he collected from a tap down to fire a missile round the corner. Now it was even steven and Melbourne was starting to turn the game to their advantage, while still absorbing the Lions’ pressure. The Dees eventually broke out of their defensive 50 and headed down the ground. Alex Neal-Bullen took delivery of a hand ball on the 50m line and ran on before kicking off the outside of right boot. The ball bounced favourably and crossed the line.

As the quarter progressed, the Demons were scaling heights unseen in well over a month. They were making multiple incursions into their forward 50 and it was only a matter of time before they scored again. That came when Toby Bedford pounced on the loose ball and kicked a pinpoint accurate banana from the boundary line.

Then James Jordon was gifted his second when awarded a 50m penalty and took his set shot 10m from goal. Melbourne were dominating with four goals from four attempts, while keeping the Lions scoreless for the quarter.

Jack Viney continued to impress with his sheer will power and ferocious tackling. He was leading from the front and pushed the Dees to compete ever harder. Brisbane did get one back against the run of play when Mitch Robinson took a mark 45m out and converted, to give the visitors something to hang onto.

The goal proved to be an aberration though, as after the bounce James Harmes collected the ball inside 50 and kicked another from 35m out. Then in the dying seconds of the half, Luke Jackson’s perfectly weighted short kick was marked by Ben Brown. The key forward kicked his first goal and Melbourne was thirty points ahead.

After half time, the Dees continued to chase every loose ball and tackle hard, forcing Brisbane to make uncharacteristic errors. The Lions were in danger of being locked in their defensive half but were managing to hang on and prevent further hemorrhaging. That was until Bayley Fritsch took a contested mark 30m out and found the bullseye with his set shot.

Deep into the third quarter, with a six goal lead, the match was well and truly under the Dees’ control. It seemed everything was coming up Melbourne as Kysaiah Pickett tapped the ball down to himself in the pocket. Then he was spun around in a tackle and somehow managed to remain standing. When he stopped he was facing the goal and booted the ball from point blank range.

Leading by forty two points at the halfway mark of the term, the Demons were mainly having it their own way. There was the odd glimmer for the Lions though. One such moment came when Mitch Robinson’s kick from 50m sailed through to claw back the margin to thirty nine points. After that goal, Brisbane tried to rally but the Dees continued to defend well before Cam Rayner snuck one through the uprights with one minute to go.

It didn’t dent Melbourne’s confidence and thirty seconds later Bayley Fritsch collected a tap down, turned and snapped into the open goal. Then Christian Petracca marked on the siren and went back to take the kick. Goalless in the last four games, his set shot hit the post to continue the drought.

With a forty point lead, it seemed that the Lions had an insurmountable task in the last quarter. Brisbane desperately needed the first goal but it was not to be. In fact the first goal wasn’t scored until the ten minute mark. Then it was Luke Jackson who found some space in the pack to hook it round the corner and home. That put paid to any Brisbane ambition for a comeback.

Just to be sure though, Kysaiah Pickett decided to put it beyond any doubt with his mark and kick from 25m. Next it was Charlie Spargo’s turn when his snap from 30m went through. All the small forwards were having a go as Toby Bedford got his second with a superb running kick from 40m.

Finally, Brisbane got a consolation when Eric Hipwood kicked from the 50m line to record his second and book-ended the Lions’ haul for the game. Fittingly, Melbourne’s last goal of the night came from Fritsch, who notched up his 150th in the process.

All in all a very satisfactory result and a gesture to the critics that the Demons aren’t dead, buried and cremated quite yet.

The game against the Crows at Adelaide Oval will present it’s own challenges and we won’t take them lightly. They’ve shown this season that they’re capable of causing an upset and we certainly haven’t forgotten the last second, one point loss at the same venue in Round 10 last year. Tex Walker is polishing his best goal kicking boots as I write this line.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!

Dees need to recapture the desperation

June 23, 2022 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLM, NSW Demons 

Round 13 – Collingwood V Melbourne

Liam Chambers

Is the lack of pressure is getting to Melbourne? The best teams, regardless of code are the ones who chase every ball, tackle mercilessly but most importantly work for each other and put the team above all else. That was the Demons in 2021.

This year they’ve played some terrific football but the consistent desire, the hunger, the focus, the determination has definitely slipped. There has been some brilliant displays of individual effort and moments of team clarity but compared to last season, something is missing.

There are injuries that have hurt the Dees but we’re no longer the pressure side that we were and it’s showing more every week. I know it’s a simplistic argument but I believe that until we recapture the desperation that won us the flag, we will continue to struggle. When we get back to our core game, the belief and success will follow.

It took awhile for the opening goal and fittingly it came on the back of some good co-operative play between Luke Jackson and Bayley Fritsch, capped off by Fritsch’s chip across the line. Ben Brown’s form has been below par recently but he had no trouble slotting his set shot from 20m for the Dees’ second. James Jordon was the beneficiary of a 50m penalty and took full advantage to kick Melbourne’s third.

Collingwood got their first goal at the start of the second term when Jack Ginnivan snapped one from 30m. Despite clawing one back, it was still Melbourne who was controlling the game.
Clayton Oliver collected the crumb from a tap down and found some space to launch one through the middle. The Dees continued to mount pressure on their opposition and it paid off when Ben Brown grabbed the wayward ball in front of goal and snapped his second.

As the quarter wore on though, the Pies were growing in confidence. When Brody Mihocek marked in the goal square, there was a sense that the game was tilting to the home side’s advantage. Mihocek always seems to save his best for the Melbourne clashes and he converted to reduce the margin to fifteen points. Then with a minute to go Mihocek struck again; marking 30m out and making it an eight point game.

The Demons’ game seems to be following a familiar pattern in recent weeks, where they’ll build up a big lead in the first quarter, maintain it for most of the second before succumbing to an opposition comeback just before half time. Then they strike early in the third term as Jack Viney did with his impressive curling snap from 40m. After that, they seem to lose the momentum and allow the rival team to take over. These events are in stark contrast to last year and earlier games this season when the third quarter was where they unleashed their best footy.

One bright spot though was when Kysaiah Pickett intercepted a clearance kick to smother and snap, giving Melbourne a twenty point lead. Then it was all Collingwood, starting with Beau McCreery who converted his set shot from 35m. Just after the bounce, Mason Cox was delivered the ball just inside 50, where he ran on and kicked for goal. Then Mason Cox hand passed to Jamie Elliott who kicked another from just outside the goal square.

With only two points separating the sides in the final term, the contest was on. Unfortunately all the momentum was with the Pies and Brody Mihocek gave them the lead when he marked on the 50m line, then kicked straight through the middle to claim his hat trick.

Collingwood was able to take a second mark in the goal square when Jamie Elliott outran the Dees back line and took the grab. Luke Jackson helped stem the black and white tide with his brilliant mark and successful set shot from the pocket. After that though, the Magpies had more or less free rein and for the last ten minutes the Dees were reduced to spectators.

Oliver Henry marked and converted. Then Brody Mihocek had another mark in the goal square. It got worse with only two minutes remaining as Jack Crisp’s running kick from 40m found the target. Then to round it off, Jamie Elliott found himself with plenty of space and ran into the open goal.

There’s no doubt now that the Demons are in a slump. How they reset and restart their season remains to be seen. There will have been a lot of soul searching over the bye.

For an interesting take and perspective on our current situation, read Nigel Dawe’s excellent article in the Newsletter. As he notes, we have some exceptional players who are prepared to give it their all week in week out, we just need the whole team recapturing the spirit that took us all the way in 2021.

Also his link to the ”Man in the Arena” speech is well worth checking out. One of my favourite quotes though is from George Halas, founder of the Chicago Bears, but it relates to all acts of endeavour: “At least 80 percent of the success of the football team is determined by the fight and spirit that they put into their play”

Go the Mighty Dees!!!

Appreciating Greatness

June 19, 2022 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLM, NSW Demons, Our history, Our stories 

Nigel Dawe

The double-edged thing about success when you get it, is that you shouldn’t ever expect or consider it your natural right or entitlement.

As a long-term devotee of this team of ours, I don’t for a moment reach for any panic button or delete keys because our side has suddenly dropped their last three games (after winning the previous 17). Quite the opposite, I think the next few weeks will be the most exciting, if not the most telling ones we’ve had for a very long time.

The great thing about champions (in any sport) is that they rise when all seems lost, it’s not the ginormous score lines or the sublime repeated passages of faultless precision, but the seemingly insurmountable tight spots they can somehow get out of, that might otherwise ensnare and crush those of a lesser mettle.

Whilst the last three weeks of footy haven’t been the most enjoyable ones I’ve ever experienced, they have reminded me of the thrill I have always taken from watching the Melbourne Demons (irrespective of them winning or losing).

It can sometimes be the individual prowess of a team member that refuses to submit (Gawny the week before last, it was easily the best game I’ve seen him play) and watching Gus Brayshaw and also the ‘Son of Todd’ – Jack Viney on the weekend, if all 18 Dees had applied themselves in such a way, then all-time record scores would’ve toppled!

But that’s sport, and the very thing that keeps you loyal and true with regards to the things that mean the most in life, as Winston Churchill himself well knew: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

And as such, I reckon our Dees will be back breathing fire after the bye, they will regroup and put all distractions aside so as to ascend the heights of this game once more. I’d love them to hear and take onboard the former American President Teddy Roosevelt’s ‘Man in the Arena’ speech.

Finally, congrats to the new inductees of the AFL Hall of Fame, to a player – they are absolutely worthy candidates. But can someone honestly tell me how Garry Lyon was overlooked again? Did he previously run over a member of the selection committee’s grandmother, or family pet?

Pound-for-pound, ‘Lyon Heart’ was the best player (with the possible exception of one Robert Flower) I have seen in my 40-years of following the Melbourne Demons; the fact neither of these two ever won a Brownlow is also another bugbear of mine.

Keeping in mind, none other than Jack ‘Captain Blood’ Dyer once said in the mid to late-90s: “I look at him [Lyon] and I see everything I love about the game… It’s a mystical thing. A matter of mind over matter. It’s not something that you can switch on or off. Some days you know you are invincible and you go out and do the invincible thing. An ordinary player never has the feeling let alone the ability to take a game by the scruff of the neck. Great players do it from time to time. Champions do it most of the time. Garry Lyon is a champion who does it more often than any player I’ve seen since Laurie Nash.”

Should anyone require any remote confirmation of this, then simply watch a replay of the ’94 Semi Final against the Bulldogs, our #3 kicked a lazy 10-goals that day (double figures in a final being a feat that has only been done by four players in the history of the game, Lyon being one of them, not to mention the very last player to do so) after leaving the ground early in the final quarter.

What’s more, ‘Captain Blood’ also went on to very aptly say alongside his above-mentioned comments: “Lyon has already set himself up for a prominent place in the AFL Hall of Fame. I wouldn’t want to be in there if he wasn’t going to join me one day.”

So, let’s just hope that that day finally comes, and Dyer’s spirit, along with the spirit of every footy purist, can then rest in peace.

Here is Roosevelt’s ‘Man in the Arena’ speech

Rumours of our demise are greatly exaggerated

June 12, 2022 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLM, NSW Demons 

Round 12 – Melbourne V Sydney

Liam Chambers

Ouch.

That’s the thing about winning all the time, the losses, when they come, bite deep. Then there’s the off field palaver involving senior players that’s only added to the upheaval. Sensibly, Melbourne have chosen to put their club culture ahead of their on-field needs.

Of course this may have an impact on our Round 13 game against Collingwood but to compromise principles would be foolish in the longer term. I’m sure the Dees will take this opportunity to take on their demons (apologies for the pun) and unite to prove their critics wrong. We’re still largely the same team that was so successful last year and in the first half of this season.

There are some wrinkles to iron out in the front line and a bit more work to secure the defence but we know what we’re capable of. All teams, even reigning premiers have slumps but to (mis)quote Mark Twain, “rumours of our demise are greatly exaggerated”.

Within a minute of the first bounce, the Demons showed that they meant business. James Jordon sliced the ball from 50m and found the middle of the goal. The second bounce and Christian Petracca was able to get a short ball to Ed Langdon 40m out. The returning wing man was spot on and the Dees were twelve points to the good. Melbourne was owning the quarter when Luke Jackson took a perfectly weighted ball from Jack Viney and kicked round the corner to claim the Demons’ third.

The home side was showing off their creativity when Kysaiah Pickett cleverly tapped the ball from the boundary back to Petracca. Then a hand pass to Ben Brown who passed it on to Max Gawn and the captain snapped it from 25m. After the bounce, Mitch Brown marked on the 50m line and went back to take a shot. He kicked into the space in front of Bayley Fritsch and our top goal scorer just laps those up. His conversion was exact and the Dees were looking good.

They were unable to hold the Swans goalless though as Sam Reid was awarded a kick in front of goal with a minute to go.

The second term started perfectly when James Harmes’ kick was marked by Gawn on the edge of the goal square. A few minutes later and Sydney had their second when Sam Reid was awarded another free kick in questionable circumstances. Regardless, he converted and it was back to twenty points. Logan McDonald then marked in the pocket and his set shot from a tight angle went through.

The Swans pressure began to tell with some fumbling from the Dees. Sydney were tackling hard and spending time in their forward 50 where Sam Reid took a mark and went back to squeeze it through by the tightest of margins and claim his hat trick. Now Sydney were getting too close for comfort and when Logan McDonald took a diving mark 30m out, he made it a one point game.

The Swans were in their stride. Tom Papley epitomised their gung ho style when his mark and run on from just outside 50 allowed him to kick a forty metre ball which bounced on the goal line and crossed to give his side a seven point lead. Melbourne desperately needed a lift before half time and it was Fritsch who grabbed his half chance from a crumb to float through his second.

When both teams came out after the big break, there was plenty of frantic scrambling but it was Fritsch who broke the impasse. His collect of the bouncing ball and impressive tap under pressure gave Melbourne back the lead in what was becoming an extremely tight game.

Then it was down to the last quarter and a case of who was prepared to do whatever it took. Max Gawn, who was having one of his best ever games, again stood up and converted a set shot from just outside the goal square. The Swans were a desperate side though and when Isaac Heeney took a couple of attempts to mark 25m out, the visitors looked like a team gaining momentum. Logan McDonald really turned the game in Sydney’s favour when his snap from 40m sailed through.

With five minutes to go, it looked like Melbourne might just be able to salvage the game and get a win. Then Errol Gunden kicked a 50m set shot and basically dared the Dees to do their worst. Unfortunately Melbourne was unable to respond and when Tom Papley kicked around the corner for his second, it was basically all over.

There are still so many pluses for Melbourne. Admittedly there are some tough matches ahead. The first being our Queen’s birthday clash against the Pies. To the casual observer, Collingwood would seem to have the advantage, having won the vast majority of these competitions over the last ten years. Tom McDonald’s presence will be sorely missed but we have an array of talent that has the opportunity to impress.

The Pies will be feeling confident but beware the Demon underdog.

Go The Mighty Dees!!!

 

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