Que Sera, Sera… What will Dee will Dee.

September 16, 2022 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLM, NSW Demons, Our history 

Nigel Dawe

Twenty-four times since 1930, the Premiers of one season have failed to make the cut of the following season’s finals. As such, the Melbourne Demons of 2022 did not add their name to that ignoble list.

OK, we may have been bundled out of September in two-straight sets thanks to the Swans and the Lions (who deserve praise for grounding our juggernaut to a halt, on our very home turf). But to say our Dees have lost their way would be a gross misrepresentation of the season we had, and where the club is at right now.

Referring to 2022 as ‘one that got away’, certainly – but any assessment more scathing than that and you need to brush right up on your history and your overall understanding of the game.

For starters, the worst slide ever experienced by a premiership team belongs to the Adelaide Crows, who put back-to-back winning campaigns together in 1997-98, all to tumble, if not free fall to 13th in 1999. Richmond limps into second place on the all-time hangover list with finishing 12th in 2021, after performing their own back-to-back treat in the seasons of 2019-20.

The less I dwell on seasonal slides, blame or blanks that can’t be filled, changed or ever made otherwise, the better and quicker I can cut to the positive chase (that has always been footy, and more to the point, the Melbourne Demons, for me).

There is always something to celebrate and cheer about when you are blessed (and perhaps cursed) with having a one-eyed affiliation, albeit deep affection for anything like a passion-fueled, group-willed and pride-driven entity, that is a football club.

As such, the Charles Brownlow medal is my healthy distraction right now – which our number 13 wearing Clayton Oliver is looming as a clear favourite to claim. Should Clarry be declared the winner on Sunday night, he will become our seventh recipient of the award, representing the eighth time it has been given to a Melbourne player.

Being twenty-two years since someone in the red and blue has taken out the award, we are due. Previous winners being: Ivor Warne-Smith (1926, 1928), Dr Don Cordner (1946), Brian Wilson (1982), Peter Moore (1984), Jim Stynes (1991), Shane Woewodin (2000).

One of my favourite lesser-known points of trivia when it comes to the Dees and the competition’s highest accolade, concerns the 1987 MFC team photo. It is the only time in the club’s history that three different Brownlow winners (for the club) are in the side’s line up. They being the number 30 wearing Peter Moore, the number 7 wearing ‘Wilo’ Wilson, and of course, the number 11 wearing ‘Dublin’s Jim’ Stynes.

Intriguingly, Clarry’s third-place in last year’s Brownlow count (with 31 votes) would’ve been more than enough for him to win the award in just about any other season. As it was, he finished six votes clear of the best ever tally registered by a Brownlow winner for the club. Jim Stynes polled a then tear away 25 votes back in 1991 to dominate the competition.

Should Clayton Oliver not lay claim to the club’s eighth Brownlow medal this week, there is still the distinct possibility that he’ll collect his fourth ‘Bluey’ club best and fairest award. Which would elevate him to equal first (alongside the great Allan La Fontaine and Jim Stynes) as the only players to do so. Being 25-years old, with surely a good six to seven years of football left in him, who knows how illustrious this ‘Barassi-like’ Shepparton-born gun will go on to be.

Demons dominant in visit to Gabba

September 2, 2022 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLM, NSW Demons 

AFLM – Round 23  – Brisbane V Melbourne

Liam Chambers

The Dees had beaten Brisbane in their last three encounters. Our performances since the bye have been mixed though and the Gabba is always an intimidating venue for visitors. We could take inspiration from our last gasp victory against the Blues in Round 22 as we continue to build on our sense of self belief.

Fittingly it was the match winning hero of the Carlton game who kicked the opener against the Lions. It took all of eighteen seconds for Kysaiah Pickett to put Melbourne on the scoreboard.

The Demons dominated Brisbane early on, restricting them to their defensive half. Every time the Lions made progress, they were quickly driven back. When Jake Lever took a defensive mark and was deemed to have been push in the back, he was awarded a 50m penalty. His kick from the 50m line was accurate and had just enough distance to cross untouched. It was his first goal as a Demon and the look on his face was priceless.

After the bounce, it was straight back to work for Melbourne. Within a minute, Bayley Fritsch had marked the ball 40m out. His set shot split the middle and it was 0-20 to the Dees.

We knew it would be difficult to restrict Brisbane to no score for the entire first quarter and that proved true when Joe Daniher marked and kicked from the 50m line. The Gabba crowd was ecstatic but the mood returned to sombre when Ben Brown ran into space and marked the ball 45m out in the pocket, then kicked to claim his first of the evening.

Ed Langdon does a lot of running but doesn’t get a lot of opportunities to score. His contested mark on the square was impressive and he had no bother slotting his quickly taken set shot.

When Melbourne went to Perth in Round 20, they proved that they could play as well as they did at anytime in 2021. However, the big question being asked, was could they sustain the level of determination required to win another flag. Well, they certainly played like champions for the remainder of the quarter. Then when Pickett bookended the term with his second goal from two disposals, it looked like being the Dees’ night.

Brisbane came out looking determined to get on the board early. Their forward pressure was intense and Melbourne was under siege. The Lions were rewarded eventually when Daniel McStay marked the ball inside 50 and scored from the set shot.

After the bounce, Brisbane surged again. Joe Daniher got boot to ball in front of goal, but Michael Hibberd’s cat like athleticism ensured the ball was touched prior to crossing the line. Those sort of reactions can be the difference in a tight game and Hibberd was roundly applauded for his quick reflexes.

Brisbane looked to have settled into a comfortable rhythm, controlling the footy and dominating territory with Melbourne unable to break out of their defensive half. Then against the run of play, the Demons got the ball up the ground and inside 50 thanks to a driving kick from Jake Melksham. Ed Langdon grabbed the ball as it was thumped away from the pack and somehow got a hand pass to Kysaiah Pickett, who turned and launched off his left boot to claim his hat trick.

After Pickett’s goal the Lions seemed to lose some of their drive and Melbourne slowly resumed control of the game. The next major came via a superb banana kick from the in form Ben Brown. By now the Dees were looking comfortable with a thirty six point lead.

Pickett’s fourth goal was classic Kozzie. He casually collected the tapped down ball, then ran forward before changing direction, spinning around and kicking the ball; watching it float to the very top of the uprights, then passing through for the goal.

They say when you’re in the zone, you can kick a goal blindfolded. That’s sort of what happened when Christian Petracca picked up the ball 30m out and chipped it over the pack. The ball landed on the edge of the square, then bounced high over Jarrod Berry’s head and across the goal line. I have a feeling that Petracca was slightly bemused by it all.

The complete domination continued after the centre bounce when Clayton Oliver’s streaming kick to inside 50 was knocked down, then collected by Jake Melksham. The forward then added his name to the scoreboard when his shot also bounced over.

Brisbane was still trying valiantly but nothing was working for them. Even when they had spells of playing in their forward half, the Demons found a way to thwart their efforts before counterattacking. It happened again when Trent Rivers’ long kick was collected by Petracca who hand passed to Bayley Fritsch giving him plenty of time and space to snap his second from the edge of the goal square.

The margin was now sixty points and there was still two minutes left in the half. Then with five seconds to go, Ben Brown took a heavily contested mark 25m out from goal. Kicking after the siren, Brown kicked his third to close out the term.

Trailing by sixty six points, Brisbane needed to be perfect for the remainder of the match if they were to have a snowball’s chance of launching one of the most unlikeliest comebacks of all time. They started well with Hugh McCluggage slotting a set shot from the pocket. Then a minute later, Joe Daniher marked from 20m out and reduced the margin to fifty four points.

That was about as good as it got for the Lions. The next goal went to Melbourne via a Bayley Fritsch mark and an around the corner snap for his hat trick. When Christian Petracca got his second unorthodox goal after somehow finding a clear path to dribble through, it was undeniably the night of the Demons.

Lincoln McCarthy restored Brisbane’s deficit to ten goals when his running kick from 35m sailed through. The hosts were unable to back it up though and their subsequent efforts only resulted in minor scores.

When Alex Neal-Bullen brought up the ton for Melbourne with his 25m set shot, the home fans could see the coveted top four spot slipping irretrievably from their grasp. As if to emphasis the impossibility of the task, Bayley Fritsch kicked his fourth after being on the end a chain that totally opened up the Lions’ defence.

At the start of the fourth quarter, Brisbane was now only playing for pride. Whether they could make a dent in Melbourne’s seventy point lead remained to be seen. The Dees would want to hang on to as much of the advantage as possible. The superior percentage meant that the Sydney Swans would need to defeat St Kilda by somewhere in the region of forty points. Second place on the ladder meant having a home game advantage which could prove crucial to the team who secured that result.

The Lions again got the first goal of the term thanks to a Hugh McCluggage snap from 20m out. After that the goals dried up for each side until Luke Jackson took an uncontested mark 20m directly in front of goal.

With two minutes to go, Mitch Robinson marked just inside the 50m line before going back to cleanly kick his set shot. Then right before the siren, Cam Rayner was awarded a free kick in front of goal and went back to reduce the final margin to fifty eight points.

The Swans won their game against St Kilda but not by enough to knock the Dees off second position. We face Sydney in our qualifier and if we continue with our current form, I like our chances.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!

Oh so sweet September

September 1, 2022 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLM, NSW Demons, Our history, Our stories 

September…. My favourite month of the year

Nigel Dawe

Before commencing this piece, I made a point of closing my eyes and taking a deep breath through my nose… and you can smell it… September that is – oh, so sweet September! There is nothing that stirs my inner 12-year-old to life than the thought of the Melbourne Demons headed to the finals.

Ironically, a book I was recently gifted by my sister called ‘Footy Banners’ sits at my elbow, and it has a snap on its cover which I figure in as a dot. It is the 1989 State of Origin at the MCG with the Vics streaming through their banner, and way up in the background between the major and the behind post (above the ‘M’ of the second Myer sign to the left) I’m there taking it all in as a then wide-eyed 12-year-old seeing his very first game at the ‘G.

As for that beautiful, mad 9th month of the year we call September (doubly so, seeing ‘sept’ stood for the numeral seven in ancient Rome) originally there were only 10 months in a calendar year. January and February weren’t added until quite some time later, and when they finally were, no one bothered to correct the other month names to reflect the ‘addition’.

Ancient history aside, our team is about to embark on its 41st September campaign, to hopefully net a 14th premiership, and if we do, it will be the 37th time in VFL/AFL history that a team has gone all the way after finishing the regular season in second place. Incredibly the Melbourne Demons have played in 90 finals matches, the exact same as the South Melbourne/ Sydney Swans. The ledger changes when you factor in the win/loss record though, the Demons having won 54 games to the Swans overall 40.

That’s the backstory, the one surging towards us concerns our third ever final against the red and white wearing Swans. For two foundation clubs, it is incredible that we’ve only met so few times. Who could forget the last time though? It was the second week of the finals in that magical year of 1987, a day in which our Demons left the field 76-point victors with Robbie Flower having kicked a game high four goals.

The first and only other time our two sides have met in September was way back in the preliminary final of 1936. That day we were beaten to the tune of 26-points by a then all-conquering team that won the flag three years prior, and were known as the ‘foreign legion’ because of the sheer number of players they had ‘acquired’ from abroad to bolster their ranks.

Back to the present day, and good luck Dees for our upcoming 91st finals match against the Swans, a wonderful omen – that being Jimmy Stynes Brownlow winning year. And let’s hope Simon Goodwin’s incredible post-season record continues, which currently reflects an 83% winning return.

Even the great Norm Smith claimed a 69% winning average in finals (mind you that was for 23-games in 11 different finals campaigns, compared to Simon’s six-games in his two post-seasons so far).

And ‘finally’, come what may, keep a quiet eye on the Geelong-Collingwood match, as there is an absolute potential hidden treat. Should our arch combatants in the black and white go down to the more favoured Cats, it will be their 100th loss in a final, making them the first team in the history of the league to notch up such a ‘wobble-some’ feat.

Dees served duck for dinner

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

Round 21 – Melbourne V Collingwood

Liam Chambers

When Ed Langdon made his “all duck and no dinner” jibe, he may have been thinking of Tzu Sun’s quote “continue to find ways to anger and irritate your opponent, for decisions made out of anger are often petulant and rash, which can lead to advantages for you”.

Unfortunately, rather than being petulant and rash, the Magpies instead looked more focused and ruthless. Langdon was brutally targeted within the first thirty seconds and a minute later Collingwood had their first goal courtesy of Jordan De Goey.

Melbourne’s response was instantaneous. Having won the hitout, Jack Viney secured a free and kicked inside 50 where Christian Petracca caught the loose ball in the air, spun around and snapped the goal. The other Christian (Salem) then won a free for his run down tackle inside the 50m line. His set shot from 48m sailed through. It was three in a row when Jack Viney took a handball from Luke Jackson, then chipped it across the line.

150th gamer Jamie Elliot got one back for the Pies with his mark and set shot score from 35m out. Jake Melksham restored the Demon’s two goal advantage after he was tackled high, half a metre inside the goal line.

Later in the quarter, Mason Cox took a contested mark 30m to the left of goal, scoring the Pies’ third from his set shot. Less than a minute later, Bayley Fritsch took a brilliant contested mark himself when Luke Jackson’s long kick from 70m found the high scoring forward in front of goal. His conversion racked up the Dees’ fifth goal and a combined eight overall for the quarter. That total increased to nine when Ash Johnson marked and scored from 50m.

It was a one point game when Jamie Elliot was awarded a free kick directly in front of goal. Then with a minute to go Christian Petracca kicked to the space in front of Bayley Fritsch. The ball was tapped down and controlled. Unfortunately Fritsch ran out of room to score but cleverly hand passed back to Kysaiah Pickett who had positioned himself at the top of the square. The small forward then ran a couple of metres and kicked into the open goal.

The drama wasn’t over yet though. Right on the siren, Chris Salem marked and was awarded a 50m penalty for an incursion. The penalty brought him to within scoring range but his set shot veered wide of the target.

Melbourne had a few opportunities to extend their lead at the start of the second term but the chances went begging. Then Ed Langdon took a contested mark 20m in front and kicked cleanly to give the Demons a sixteen point lead. Tom Sparrow followed up with a steely nerved 50m set shot and we were twenty three points ahead. The advantage didn’t last long as Jamie Elliot claimed his hat trick from a 25m set shot.

Melbourne had dominated the inside 50 tally all game but the Pies’ efficiency once they got close to goal was better. It happened again when Brody Mihocek found some space 25m from goal to snap and close the gap to ten points. The momentum had swung Collingwood’s way and the Dees were struggling to turn back the tide.

Finally they found a way to stem the black and white tsunami when Ben Brown marked deep in the pocket. He bent his run around kick perfectly and stretched the lead back to sixteen points. Melbourne now knew that they were in a real fight and would have to scramble for every advantage as well as defend desperately in face of Collingwood’s forward pressure.

The Dees was playing well though and when Bayley Fritsch secured a free, then a 50m penalty, he kicked superbly from just outside 50. We couldn’t afford to relax however, as Collingwood again showed their efficiency inside 50 when Ash Johnson was able to snap the loose ball from 25m to the left of goal.

No doubt the Demons would have been ruing those missed opportunities after having controlled the play so convincingly in the first half. Melbourne had prevented the Pies from intercepting marks and also dominated inside 50s and contested marks. We hadn’t done a lot wrong but Collingwood had defended well and as previously noted was hugely efficient when they got to within scoring range.

It was all Dees for the first ten minutes of the second half, but we had little to show for that effort. Then the Pies broke through and Brody Mihocek was able to kick from the 50m line to Beau McCreery who marked the ball at the top of the square.

Melbourne fans were getting understandable nervous as Collingwood was holding the margin to two goals and threatening to make it an even tighter contest. Charlie Spargo finally provided some relief for the pent up faithful with his brilliant dribble 10m from the right of goal.

The Pies dragged it back again after the ARC deemed Brody Mihocek’s set shot had scrapped through, despite the Umpire’s behind call. It was twelve points and now becoming more of a psychological battle. Having won so many close games, Collingwood had to fancy themselves to prevail. The Dees would be thinking what do we have to do now to ram home our advantage?

Then the mind games became even more intense when Patrick Lipinski picked up the ball just inside 50 and found enough room to launch a bullet and make it a one goal game.

The Pies had pulled out a large number of tricks from their bag in the third quarter. The question now was how many surprises had they left? Melbourne would have to get seriously desperate to prevent the serial comeback kings from pulling off another unlikely victory.

The tension was unbearable. There were near misses and howlers on both sides. Then Jamie Elliot was awarded a free kick for a tackle 15m to the right of goal. Now it was a one point match. Collingwood was fighting tooth and nail when Ash Johnson took a mark and scored from 40m to take the lead. The Dees were behind for the first time since the opening minutes.

Ben Brown had missed a couple on the night but he didn’t miss a set shot from 35m and Melbourne was back in front. The lead change again when Josh Daicos scored from 45m. After the bounce, it was a case of blink and you miss it as Gawn, Oliver, Petracca and Viney combined to get the ball inside 50 where Alex Neal-Bullen kicked from 40m to again restore the lead.

By now Demon fans all over the country were being revived by concerned friends. The outcome was impossible to predict with just over eight minutes left on the clock. Then, in what initially looked like a dubious call, Ash Johnson was awarded a free in front of goal for an illegal push. He went back to kick his fourth and the lead changed for the fifth time in the quarter.

Ultimately Melbourne couldn’t find a way to score another major and Collingwood, yet again, found a way to win in the fourth quarter.

We will have learned a lot from this last game but it would have been the sweetest taste if we could just have hung on to beat our arch nemesis. Still that’s footy. Even the most optimistic Demon would have to concede that we’re extremely unlikely to secure a top two spot now. However a top four place is very much alive.

Carlton have been having their own problems lately but they’ve already beaten us pre season and we would underestimate them at our peril. Then of course there’s our last game against the Lions who will be out for revenge after being thrashed in Round 15.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!

Melbourne’s stevedores offload Dockers

August 4, 2022 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLM, NSW Demons 

Round 20 – Fremantle V Melbourne

Liam Chambers

They say that a week is a long time in football and conclusively, there’s been a 100% turnaround in the Dees’ performance. Round 20 was arguably our best display of 2022.

From the start you could sense the difference in the Demons. They were chasing every ball and applying unrelenting pressure to the Dockers. Melbourne’s hand passing was impressive but most importantly they were playing as a team in a way we’ve rarely seen this year. Their great strength last season was the philosophy of team first, individuals second. That tenet has been re-stamped into each player’s DNA and it showed in their attitude.

We were dominating play and spending most of the first ten minutes in our forward 50. Somewhere over the last couple of seasons, the Dees have adapted well to playing in wet conditions; something Freo still struggle to master. It was only a matter of time before Melbourne scored and it came via a perfectly place kick from Christian Petracca which was marked by Kysaiah Pickett. The set shot was a straightforward kick from 20m in front.

After the goal, the Demons looked comfortably in control. The belief was back. The trials and tribulations of the past three months were behind them and there was a renewed focus. You can argue about the catalyst that brought about this change; conceding 110 points to the Dogs last week, the mid week evaluation of recent performances, even Angus Brayshaw resigning for six more years. Perhaps a combination of all three mixed together with some other unknown variables. Whatever the reason, the change was palpable.

As if on cue, Bayley Fritsch showed his versatility and talent by picking up the tapped down ball, then running around the Dockers’ defence and striking off his left boot to score form 25m out. Then after winning the hitout, Melbourne again proceeded towards goal. Inside 50, they pounced and tackled, giving Fremantle no opportunity to get the ball out and creating a stoppage in front of goal. Charlie Spargo crumbed the ball and got a kick away before Freo had a chance to fully react. The review showed the ball hadn’t been touched and Melbourne was three goals to the good.

Although the Dees have had good first terms in recent games, this time it was different. This was total domination and there was little their opponents could do to arrest the onslaught. When the Dockers made it into our defensive 50 we didn’t concede an inch. Their forays were fought off with determination. There was a confidence that we could handle whatever Fremantle could throw at us.

When you sling enough mud, some will eventually stick and so it was when Freo finally scored with three minutes to go. Michael Frederick was awarded a free to the right of the square and went back to kick the set shot. Then Michael Walters slammed through a goal after collecting the ground ball 20m out.

Melbourne took it in their stride. With a minute to go, Jayden Hunt kicked a long ball to Fritsch inside 50, where the forward missed the mark but controlled the sherrin, running on before tapping in his second.

The Dees’ first goal after the break just epitomised the rediscovered team spirit. Jack Viney one handedly picked up the bouncing ball, spun around, charged through Andrew Brayshaw before passing to Tom Sparrow who passed to Ed Langdon. The wing-man took off at speed, getting the kick away where it sailed inside 50, was tapped down then collected by James Jordan who chipped it through the posts.

When Max Gawn took a mark deep in the pocket, he spotted the aforementioned Ed Langdon in a better position just inside the 50m line. Taking the Freo defence by surprise Gawn kicked to Langdon who took the mark and kicked long and accurately to put the Dees ahead by 26 points.

Both sides had chances after that but were unable to capitalise. Then as half time was closing in, Jake Melksham proved again why he’s back in the side. Another stoppage enabled Clayton Oliver to flick the ball up, literally from ground level, to the waiting Melksham. The veteran forward found enough space to get around the defence and snap from 30m. Michael Walters got one back just before the siren but the Dees still led by a healthy 27 points.

Melbourne continued in the same vein at the start of the second half. Their pressure, if anything, intensified. Freo was basically locked into their defensive 50. Eventually they got out but no matter how hard they fought, the Dockers were still having difficulties penetrating the Dees’ defence. Then they got a desperately needed break when Griffin Logue was able to control the ground ball on the edge of the square and tap in a goal.

Fremantle had closed the gap but could they to back it up and seriously threaten the Demons? That question was answered quickly when Angus Brayshaw’s kick to space was marked by Bayley Fritsch deep in the pocket. Fritsch’s 50m kick, from a tight angle was perfect.

Max Gawn again won the hitout and kicked the ball to inside 50. Charlie Spargo ended up with possession. His 40m kick didn’t quite have the distance but was incredibly marked by Sam Weideman right on the edge of the goal square. Weideman went back a couple of metres and stretched the advantage to 34 points.

The Dockers continued to apply pressure but couldn’t get any reward for all their efforts. Frustratingly for the home fans, it was Melbourne who got the next major when Charlie Spargo was awarded a free on the boundary line to the right of goal. His round the corner kick sailed through, pushing the margin passed 40 points. To add to Freo’s woes, it started to rain again.

As the minutes ticked down in the last quarter, the situation was looking increasingly dire for Fremantle. Meanwhile Melbourne continued to push their opponents hard. There was no way we were getting run down this time.

Michael Frederick got one back with his round the corner kick but it was purely a consolation goal. Within a few minutes, Jake Melksham had marked the ball 30m out and hand passed to Kysaiah Pickett as he flew past into a scoring position. It was an easy stroll and tap into the open goal. Kozzie had his hat trick when when Fritsch kicked to the small forward as he again ran towards goal, marking on the edge of the square. Pickett sprinted around and kicked, ratcheting up the advantage to 46 points.

With the win, the Dees remain in second spot. It was arguably their best performance all season. It also showed the deep desire to win back to back flags. It’s no exaggeration to say that the Collingwood game in Round 21 is our most important so far this year.

If we win, we will have given ourselves a great chance to finish in the top two. It won’t be easy. The Pies have won their last ten games in a row. They’ve also beaten us in sixth of our last seven meetings. However, if we play with the same determination and team spirit we showed in Round 20, then I have no doubt that we will win!

Go the Mighty Dees!!!

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