2024 – A Season Preview of Sorts…

February 2, 2024 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLM, NSW Demons 

“If you go down, get straight back up. The only time you stay down is if you’re knocked out or dead…. Defeat acts as a spur to do better.” – Norm Smith

Nigel Dawe

With close to a month to go before our Melbourne Demons (the oldest football team in the country) embark upon their 166th season of competitive endeavour, and the 128th time as an integral member of the current VFL/AFL fixture.

I got reflecting, as I often do at this time of the year, that a mere 1,370 guys have had the honour – in the post 1897 era – of sliding a red and blue guernsey over their head and down across their chest before running out onto the field as a first-grade player of the Melbourne Football Club.

To put the rarity and prestige of this accomplishment into perspective, an almost ballpark amount of people have won a Nobel Prize (in each of the six categories) since its inception in 1901. To date, our team has played 2,512 games in the VFL/AFL competition, winning 1,151 of them, and claiming a draw with our opponents on 22 other occasions.
29,185 times our players have caused goal umpires to give their extended double-armed salute between the sticks; and soothingly enough, the most goals we’ve kicked against any side is exactly 2,554 against Collingwood (which is strangely identical to the amount we’ve put on the board against the Saints).

Contrary to how ‘numerically’ this segment has kicked off, numbers have never really been my thing; rather, tales of ticker and tenacity more stir my loins when it comes to the love and loyalty I have for this club. A love and loyalty that’s been forged, and permanently fixed into the bedrock of my soul through both the pangs of trial and defeat, and the pleasure of triumph and rewarded travail.

One easily missed insight into the year we’re about to have, I think, was the encouraging recent image of our ‘Son of Todd’ – that being Jack Viney, staying out on the training track long after everyone else had called it a day, practicing his craft. If anyone embodies the thunderous (and currently wounded) beating heart of the red and blue, it is this man, and I can’t wait to see what he does with each of the 120-minutes of game time he gets in season 2024.

Another determining subplot to the outcome of our year is the manner in which our record 4-time winner of the club’s best and fairest award – Clayton Oliver, will return to the fray exactly where he left off: as a player that must already be having his dimensions measured for an eventual statue outside the ‘G as a great of the game.

In every pursuit the human being becomes aware of, albeit fascinated by, nothing captivates or binds us more than the redemption tale of a champion, and Clary, mark my words – will be no exception; just watch out for him to win the centenary Brownlow medal of 2024. Or better still, watch out for the first ever tied winners of the award from the same club, thus a Petracca and Oliver double would be beyond sublime.

Relatedly, and I’ve banged this drum before, keep an eye out for the long overdue induction of Garry Lyon into the AFL Hall of Fame. 25-years after his retirement, the greatest player I’ve seen in the 40-years of following this caper (with the possible, and previously stated exception of Robbie Flower) the #3 wearing maestro from Kyabram with the cat-like skills and the killer instincts, is due his gong.

For those that might harp otherwise, take another look at his 10-goal hit-out against the Bulldogs in that Semi Final of 1994, and then explain to me how he’s not already ‘officially’ entrenched as one of the greats of the game.

And finally, on the general topic of predictions and prophecies, I got hold of a long sought after piece of Melbourne memorabilia recently. It was a 1970s mirror that the VFL commissioned for each team that featured an embossed group photo of their first premiership side.

Ours being of course the come-from-the-clouds Fuchsias of 1900; but the reason I mention it, is the actual circular photo reminds me distinctly of a crystal ball, and one fringed with a kind of decorative ornamentation that wouldn’t look out of place above a bar in the old Wild West.

Thus, in that same spirit, may our modern-day gunslingers of Gawn, Viney & Co. enjoy and fearlessly make the most of their turn and season in the sun – wearing the most time-honoured colours of all.

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 Never Say Die

July 23, 2023 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLM, NSW Demons, Our history 

Round 18 – Melbourne V Brisbane

Liam Chambers

Q1 – The Demons come out fighting.

It was a must win game for the Demons if they were to maintain the coveted top four position. Geelong is making a late dash and we don’t want them to usurp us in the last weeks of the regular season. On the positive side, the Lions have been underperforming in their away games and the MCG hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for them in almost a decade.

Melbourne went hard early hoping to catch Brisbane napping. Let’s just say, the Lions were still rubbing the sleep from their eyes, while the Dees tore through the visitors’ back line.

Alex Neal-Bullen kicked the opener from a free, after he was taken out of the marking contest, just to the right of the square. It was an easy conversion, and the Dees were away.

A minute later, Christian Petracca had his first, after controlling the bouncing ball, then turning and snapping from 15m in front. Two minutes later, Petracca had a second when he marked on the arc, then ran in a semi-circle before booting from 50m to split the middle.

Dees fans little time to bask in their team’s reflected glory though, as Ben Brown was awarded a free against Harris Andrews, who was caught holding the ball. Big Ben’s signature long run up set shot resulted in the key forward hitting the target from 50m.

With four goals in ten minutes, Melbourne had reason to feel very happy with their performance. It was only a matter of time though before Brisbane settled down and showed what a quality opponent they can be.

Slowly, the Lions started to wrest back some momentum, culminating in Zac Bailey’s 50m set shot hitting the spot and giving his team their first major. Despite Brisbane’s new found dominance, it was the Dees who picked up the next goal, via a great team effort.

Jake Melksham controlled the bouncing ball, then turned and snapped to Ben Brown inside 50. Brown marked and ran on, then unselfishly hand passed to Charlie Spargo, as he hovered on the edge of the square. The small forward strolled to goal line and hammered it home for Melbourne’s fifth.

After the goal, Brisbane resumed control of the game but were unable to make the most of their chances. Then, with three minutes remaining, Charlie Cameron ran out to take a mark, 20m from the goal line. It was a piece of cake for the high scoring Cameron and Brisbane narrowed the margin to seventeen points. It was already a goal fest for the fans but there were more majors to come.

First Kysaiah Pickett was awarded a free for his tackle on Darcy Wilmot in the pocket. Kozzie has struggled to put points on the board in recent weeks, but his 35m set shot from the tight angle was perfect.

Then, Joe Daniher marked the ball in a similar spot, up the other end. His kick after the siren sailed through, setting up an exciting second term.

Q2 – The Lions even the score.

The opening chapter of our heroic tale had been a quarter of two halves, with first Melbourne and then Brisbane dominating; the Lions carrying the momentum into the break.

The Demons got the opener though, after Brisbane turned the ball over, allowing Jake Bowey the opportunity to collect and snap from 40m.

After the bounce, Melbourne continued to worry the Brisbane defence before the visitors broke through and transitioned the length of the ground. Oscar McInerney, lumbering inside 50, was able to collect the ball and just manage to tap it through the uprights. Then the Lions had back to back majors when Will Ashcroft was the last link in a seamless end to end chain. His 40m kick from the pocket was only ever going between the uprights, and Brisbane gave the screw another turn.

After that, the Lions went up a gear, controlling the game with Melbourne valiantly fending off wave after wave of attacks. Finally though, Jaspa Fletcher took an intercept mark and bounced his way inside 50, before unleashing from 40m.

It was now a five point game with the Lions well and truly on top; the pressure continuing unabated. It was only a matter of time before Brisbane took the lead. The inevitable happened when Jack Gunston cleanly converted his 40m set shot, putting the Lions ahead by a single point.

Then, when it looked like Melbourne risked falling further behind, Petracca took a mark inside 50. He went back and kicked from the 50m line, claiming his hat trick.

Brisbane wasn’t to be denied their half time lead though. With thirty nine seconds to go, Lincoln McCarthy marked at the top of the square and put the Lions ahead again.

Q3 – Brisbane turn it up to eleven.

Melbourne dominated the stats in the first half, but Brisbane transitioned the ball better and made the most of their opportunities inside 50. In order to take back control, the Dees needed to emulate the Lions’ kicking efficiency.

Unfortunately, Brisbane hit the scoreboard first when Lincoln McCarthy kicked another goal after he marked 35m out. It was back to back majors for the forward and just the start the Lions wanted.

Undeterred, Melbourne went on to win the clearance and launched an immediate attack. Taj Woewodin, who almost kicked a goal on his debut in Round 17, was not to be denied a second time, as his 45m shot from the boundary found the target. There was much rejoicing as his team mates gathered around to celebrate.

The scoreline see sawed as the goals continued with Jack Gunston snapping from 15m, returning the margin to seven points. Despite the numbers on the board, the Lions were owning the quarter, keeping the Dees hemmed inside their defensive half.

Melbourne withstood the avalanche of pressure for what seemed like an eternity, before Brisbane finally broke through, courtesy of a Zac Bailey’s snap from 30m. The juggernaut from the north continued to ride roughshod over the Demons’ defence, scoring their third in a row when Jarryd Lyons snapped a bullet from 48m. More torture ensued when Jack Gunston marked and scored from a 30m set shot.

The outlook for Melbourne was bleak with the Lions completely dominating inside 50 and being frustratingly accurate with their kicking. It was a worried looking coach on the sidelines, as Simon Goodwin pondered his options in a game rapidly slipping from his grasp. To add to the pain, Harrison Petty was subbed out with an injury. His replacement Joel Smith ran on to take up the fight.

Then, a moment of sweet relief, when Kozzie Pickett swooped to collect the loose ball, before finding enough space to launch and score from 25m.

Regrettably, the relief was short lived as Eric Hipwood converted from deep in the pocket to restore the twenty eight point margin.

Captain Max Gawn, who was in his element dominating the ruck all night, was suddenly gifted a free kick from 45m out. Gawny kicked for the stars and was rewarded when his shot fell back down to earth, just behind the goal line. It was the boost and injection of self-belief that the Dees needed, and the fans were ecstatic.

It looked like Melbourne might get another, immediately after the bounce, but Brisbane turned the ball around and got it up the other end. There, Charlie Cameron kicked his second, with the shot coming off the inside of his left boot.

There was an encouraging end to the quarter though, and reason for optimism, as Jacob van Rooyen took up the ruck position, tapping down the ball, where Kozzie collected and passed to Petracca, allowing him to snap his fourth of the night.

Q4 – The miracle at the MCG.

On paper, the Lions had the game in the bag, but the Demons have played some great footy in the last term this season. However, a win for Brisbane would greatly assist their chances of securing a top two spot, so there was motivation aplenty.

When Joe Daniher hit the turf like he was auditioning for the Fall Guy reboot, it appeared to be a case of signed, sealed and delivered for the Lions. Joe slotted the set shot for his third of the night and Steven May was left fuming that his gentle caress of Daniher’s back had handed Brisbane a twenty six point lead.

Possibly because the Lions felt safe enough to relax, or the Dees were naturally motivated by the injustice of it all, is uncertain (possibly a combination of both) but the incident proved a catalyst for a Demon revival.

The determination was unquestionable, but it seemed that old accuracy hoodoo was again haunting Melbourne, with three minor scores in a row. When James Jordan put his set shot wide and the clock slipped under ten minutes, a victorious comeback seemed a bridge too far. 

However, master bridge builder Max Gawn continued to lay the ground work, refusing to submit and urging his troops forward. As the minutes ticked away, the four goal disadvantage pushed victory further and further out towards the horizon.

Then with just over seven minutes remaining, Kozzie went for a mark just outside the 50m line; bent down to retrieve the ground ball while evading two encroaching Lions, then ran on, kicking with his left boot. The ball curved slowly in a beautiful arc that could have been set to music. Finally, and incredibly it floated between the posts.

Now, it was caution to the wind time, as Melbourne took their momentum and launched themselves at Brisbane with no thoughts for the consequences. Another minor score and then a wonderfully placed kick by Gawn, which was marked in the pocket by Jake Melksham. The around the corner set shot kick went through and took the Dees to within two goals of the Lions, with less than five minutes to play.

The Lions were under siege and a rushed behind ensued. Then a stoppage where the ball was tapped down. Oscar McInerney grabbed the sherrin, but he had it ripped from his hands by the iron willed Jack Viney; the midfielder then spun around and snapped at goal, taking the Dees to within five points of an unbelievable upset.

Melbourne had two minutes to win the match and the Lions had two minutes to deny them. The entire MCG was in a heightened state of tension.

When Angus Brayshaw’s kick inside 50 soared high, all eyes were on the ball, but it was Jake Melksham who ended up with the sherrin tightly clasped in his hands, as he tumbled across the turf. Taking the full thirty seconds, Melksham went back to kick perhaps the most important shot of his career. The kick, when it left his boot from just inside 50, was pure perfection. As the ball crossed the goal line, the roar from the crowd was deafening.

With ten seconds left, the Lions made one last desperate dash. The ball sailed towards Brisbane’s goal, but the mark was taken on Jake Lever’s chest, with Eric Hipwood’s arm draped across his shoulder. The mark was rightfully claimed by Lever, despite pleas from Hipwood to the umpire that he had marked it. Maybe the Brisbane fans believed that but nobody else was buying it.

While the history of the Melbourne club continues to be written, a special paragraph should be dedicated to this famous victory.

We host the Adelaide Crows in Round 19. They may be fading towards the business end of the season, but we would be foolish indeed to dismiss them.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!

Melbourne v St Kilda – Saints Given Marching Orders

July 14, 2023 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLM, NSW Demons 

Round 17 – St Kilda V Melbourne

Liam Chambers

With a roof over their heads, Melbourne didn’t have to worry about playing in the rain this week. Also, their recent record at Marvel has been good, boding well for the must win match.

The game started badly for St Kilda when star goal kicker Max King made his way off the field with an injured shoulder; his season potentially over. Demon fans would cast their minds back to Round 15 when Jeremy Cameron’s injury only motivated Geelong to play one of their best games all year.

Alex Neal-Bullen put the Dees on the board by emerging from a stoppage, stumbling into the square, evading the grasping Saints and landing a kick into the goal.

Afterwards, St Kilda’s pressure was incessant as they pushed Melbourne back into their defensive half. Their sheer determination meant something would eventually have to give, and it did when Jack Steele took a mark just inside the arc. He kicked the 50m set shot, levelling the scores.

After the goal, the Saints took advantage of their momentum, forcing Melbourne to continually defend. A few efforts were thwarted before Jade Gresham booted a long shot from 55m to give his side a nine point lead. While the goal was being celebrated, Seb Ross was sitting forlornly on the bench with a suspected hamstring injury, and he too was subbed out. A minute later St Kilda extended their lead further when Mason Wood snapped from 40m in front.

We could have been forgiven for thinking the Saints were on a thumping victory trajectory, but I clung to my optimistic pre game prediction of a six goal first term for the Dees. They said I was a dreamer, but I said, “I’m not the only one”.

After the bounce, Melbourne won the clearance and took off for goal like the winner of a one minute trolley dash; eventuating in Lachie Hunter being taken high on the edge of the square. The wingman converted to reduce the deficit. The Dees had a second in quick succession when Ben Brown stole the mark, 30m from goal.

Then Ed Langdon gave Melbourne the lead with his opportunistic attempt from the right of the goal square. Ed looked slightly perplexed, as he was helped to his feet by his team mates; possibly not realising that the ball had gone through the uprights.

Once St Kilda had recovered from the flurry of Demon goals, they quickly regrouped and resumed their attack on Melbourne’s defence. They couldn’t quite regain their earlier momentum however and the Dees easily dealt with the renewed pressure.

Then with under three minutes remaining, Christian Petracca took an exceptional mark deep inside 50, and was quickly goalward bound before booting the ball from the middle of the goal square, sending it high into the stands.

Melbourne maintained the lead despite Mattaes Phillipou’s attempt, which actually landed on top of the upright. Luckily, there’s no points for trick shots of that quality. Angus Brayshaw attempted a 60 plus metre shot after the siren but unfortunately was unable to fulfill my prophecy of six majors in the quarter.

Q2 – three Saints down

With three of their players subbed out, the Saints looked to be on the back foot. They obviously didn’t get the memo though, as they continued to go all out in attacking Melbourne. The pressure was paying off with St Kilda setting up several set shots on goal, as well as creating other opportunities inside 50. However, they were suffering from the same affliction that has plagued the Dees for the past month and their accuracy left a lot to be desired.

The Saints completely dominated the first half of the term, but then Melbourne slotted the opening goal against run of play. Jake Melksham has settled nicely into his role as Bailey Fritsch’s replacement. His around the corner from deep in the pocket was perfectly executed.

After the goal, St Kilda just kept pushing forward before Mitch Owens was awarded a free kick in the square. It was an easy set shot to make it a one goal game.

The Dees counter attacked after the bounce and eventually landed the ball inside 50, where Ben Brown went for the mark and was taken high. Tom Sparrow immediately played on, taking the advantage and snapping from 25m to restore the lead to twelve points.

Melbourne then assumed control of the ball, slowing down the play to their advantage. The Saints just kept coming though, powering forward when they got hold of the sherrin. They couldn’t slot any more goals before half time though, trailing the Dees by thirteen points at the break.

Q3 – a slim 2 points

Whereas the Saints had dominate inside 50 in the first half, their efficiency once inside the arc was severely lacking. Also, Steven May was having an enormous night. Not having to shadow Max King, freed up the defender to intercept mark like it was going out of fashion.

Five minutes in, Jake Melksham hit the post with his around the corner set shot attempt, making it three all for posters so far in the game.

When Christian Petracca took an intercept mark, 40m from the target, he had the look of a player who had rediscovered his goal kicking mojo. He steered the shot cleanly giving the Dees a twenty one point cushion.

The Saints were still in it though and when Jack Billings converted from 40m in the pocket, St Kilda fans were on their feet. They barely had time to sit down again when Cooper Sharman took a mark 30m in front. Suddenly the lead had been whittled down to nine points and the hosts were again threatening an upset.

Melbourne though, was able to pad out their buffer when Ben Brown tapped down an attempted mark and Petracca ran past, collecting the footy en route. The all rounder then booted from the edge of the square to claim his hat trick.

There were no more goals when the three quarter siren sounded, with the Dees having won the term by a slim two points.

Q4 – all over with Trac’s 4th

The Saints had given everything in the first three quarters in an attempt to climb over the top of the Demons. The question now was, could they maintain the rage and clinch a famous victory.

The home crowd was cheering on their understrength side, willing them to keep going and they didn’t disappoint. The pressure on Melbourne defensive half was unrelenting and there were a few fumbles and stumbles along the way, as they continued to deflect the onslaught.

Fortunately for the Dees, St Kilda was unable to convert their chances. The Saints would have reflected on the bitter irony that the team who struggled to hit the target in recent games, was now landing goals against the run of play. Jake Melksham kicked his second from another round the corner shot; doing a great job filling Bailey Fritsch’s footy boots.

Then, just when the Demon army thought it was safe to relax, St Kilda stole one back twenty seconds after the clearance. Mitch Owens found just enough space to snap one from the top of the goal square.

Melbourne almost returned the favour, after winning the hitout and taking off for goal. The debutant Taj Woewodin received a handball as he ran inside 50, then snapped from 30m. His spontaneous celebrations were premature unfortunately, as the sherrin just skimmed the outside of the right hand upright.

A few minutes later Tom “Jack” Sparrow created his own piece of history when marked and converted to score his second goal in a match, for the first time in his sixty six game career. Surely Sparrow’s goal was going to seal the deal? Dees’ fans couldn’t relax though. Back to back losses and a gritty St Kilda side were enough to keep the doubt alive.

When Jake Gresham nailed his 40m set shot, the Saints still had five minutes kick another three goals and win.

It looked like St Kilda could in fact pull off a miracle when Mitch Owens marked five metres from the goal line. It was a false dawn however as Judd McVee was held off the ball behind the marker and awarded a free kick. The fans were incensed but the free was legit.

The Saints would be justified in believing that they had somehow angered the footy gods when Cooper Sherman’s snap from 35m landed next to the goal line before flipping back into the hands of Ed Langdon.

With a minute to go, St Kilda knew it was all over but would still have been dismayed to see Christian Petracca mark a Jake Melksham kick, 40m out in the pocket. Tracca then capped off a stirling game with his superbly taken set shot to notch up his fourth goal.

Post match – locking down 4th

With the victory, the Dees managed to put some daylight between themselves and the chasing pack. It was hard won and locked them into fourth spot on the ladder.

Congratulations to Christian Salem on his milestone 150th game. His twenty four disposals was an integral cog in the Melbourne machine on the day.

Brisbane are seemingly invincible at the Gabbatoir but surprisingly, they have lost four of their seven away games this season. Those stats will mean nothing however if we are not at our best on Friday night. Now that we are scoring more goals than behinds, let’s show the Lions we’re after that number three position.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!

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