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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Commiserations & celebrations in the Brayshaw household

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

Round 11 – Narrm V Fremantle

Liam Chambers

It had to happen eventually. To paraphrase Paul Keating, it was the loss we had to have. Much better to lose now and win every game in September. Fremantle are a quality side and having lost their two previous games, they were out to prove their credentials.

With Ed Langdon injured, Toby Bedford was back in the side and had a good chance early on, as he sprinted and bounced before kicking from 40m. Unfortunately his shot hit the post.

The Dockers were looking impressive as they pressured Narrm’s defence. After a few minor scores, they eventually found the target when Rory Lobb marked in the pocket and converted from 35m.

After the clearance, Jack Viney collected the tapped down ball and kicked a bullet to inside 50 where Bayley Fritsch reached skywards and took the mark. His set shot from 40m was classic Fritsch. After the goal, the Dees came out in force, pushing for their second, which they got when James Jordan nailed a shot from 45m out.

At the start of the second quarter, it was confirmed that Steven May had been medically subbed out of the game after coming off worst in a marking clash with Jake Lever near the end of the first term. It was the second week in a row that the Demons had suffered the same fate. With both May and Langdon out, the side would be severely tested.

Narrm continued to put their opponents under enormous strain and the efforts paid off as they strung together a stirring end to end display. Christian Petracca’s kick from the middle of the field, landed in front of Toby Bedford. Reminiscent of his goal from Round 10, Bedford gathered and ran on. This time he kicked from the 50m line and floated the ball over the head of the Freo defender; landing it in the goal square, where it bounced across the line.

It was back to back for Bedford when he was again the beneficiary of a Petracca pass. His run into clear space, before turning and snapping was successful. The Demons were looking impressive and when Kysaiah Pickett found himself in possession of the ball with just enough room, he didn’t hesitate and Narrm were twenty two points to the good.

Then it was a case of blink and you miss it as Max Gawn won the hitout and kicked to Jake Melksham, who got it to Bayley Fritsch inside 50. Fritsch took aim and fired and the Dees had six in a row.

Freo clearly looked to be struggling but as half time loomed, Rory Lobb marked 25m from goal. The key forward kicked both the Dockers and his second major to keep the game alive.

With a twenty five point lead after the big break, there was no hint of the storm to come. The comeback started simply enough with Matt Taberner’s set shot hitting the mark. Then Rory Lobb had a kick from outside the 50m line to make it three in a row for the visitors.

Suddenly, Fremantle were right back in it. It took awhile for Narrm to respond but when it came, it was as perfect a shot as you could hope for. Bayley Fritsch’s kick from the boundary line went through from the tightest of angles and the margin was back to twenty points.

The Dockers were undeterred though and Matt Taberner had another chance when he was awarded a free kick in the goal square. Freo had moved up a gear and kept pushing, forcing errors from the Dees’ defence. Lachie Schultz was able to take advantage of a loose ball and snapped another for Fremantle. When Michael Frederick had a set shot from 50m, he ran around and launched goalward, reducing the gap to a single point.

Following the bounce, it only got worse for Narrm when Sean Darcy marked inside 50 and put the visitors in front. Then with the clock ticking down to three quarter time, Michael Walters snapped from 30m in the pocket to extend the lead to ten points. The pain increased again when Lachie Schultz drove one home with a minute to go.

Trailing by seventeen points, the Dees looked shell shocked going into the final quarter. There was no doubt that the back line was missing Steven May’s leadership but the Dockers were also playing their best football of the season. It remained to be seen whether Narrm could stem the tide and win back the momentum.

Unfortunately, it looked like it wasn’t going to be the Demon’s night when the ball connected with the upright for the third time in the match. As the minutes ebbed away, the belief only grew in the Dockers’ camp that this was their game and the Dees appeared unable to wrest back any control.

At the halfway mark, Fremantle looked to have landed the potential winner when Michael Frederick snapped his second from 20m. A few minutes later and Lachie Schultz was able to collect the ball in the square and kick his hat trick.

Narrm had their chances but the shots kept missing. Conversely, it seemed the Dockers couldn’t miss as Travis Colyer launched from outside 50 and connected. Then with three minutes to go, Lachie Schultz had four and Freo put the other contenders on notice.

It was the Demons first loss after a run of seventeen wins and there’ll be plenty of analysis of the game and our performance. Unfortunately, Steven May will miss the Swans game, but Ed Langdon is back along with Adam Tomlinson who has been playing well in the VFL. Christian Salem, Tom McDonald, James Harmes are also  all returning for the game against Sydney.

There’s been lots of discussion amongst the critics this year about the Demons infallibility so the loss may be no bad thing and it takes some pressure off us to keep winning.

The coaches will look carefully at Freo’s decision to tag Clayton Oliver with James Aish in the second half, which obviously paid dividends. They’ll look for ways around that tactic if the Swans try something similar.

The Round 11 game against Sydney will be tough but I’m backing Melbourne to bounce back in style.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!

Narrm comfortably win debut game

May 27, 2022 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLM, NSW Demons, Sponsoring James 

Round 10 – North Melbourne V Narrm

Liam Chambers

After last week’s stellar display against a passionate and determined Eagles in Perth, the Dees were back in Melbourne. Their first game under a temporary moniker, the players looked impressive in newly designed Indigenous guernseys. For the Sir Doug Nicholls rounds, I’ll be referring to our team as Narrm.

The more games the Demons win, the more our opponents want to beat us. The Roos would definitely go in hard initially but their 2022 form has seen them flagging in the latter stages of the game.

No first minute goal this week, in fact it took ten on the clock before Ed Langdon was awarded a free kick for what was deemed a dangerous tackle. It may have technically been within the rules, but Ed would have been feeling the pain. It didn’t interfere with his kicking skills though and he made the round the corner kick look easy.

North finally made it back inside 50 where Todd Goldstein was able to outmark Steven May (no easy feat) in front of goal. He converted and the Roos were on the board. The goal inspired the hosts and they were quickly back in their forward half. North were applying the pressure and creating chances. Young future hopeful Jason Horne-Francis intercepted the stoppage ball before being taken high in a tackle. His set shot gave North Melbourne their second goal in the space of a few minutes.

Now the Roos were brimming with confidence and putting Narrm’s defence under some serious strain. The disposal rate was impressive, as was their tackling and kicking efficiency.

However the Demons kept their heads and thought their way out of trouble before continuing up the ground. When Charlie Spargo spotted Tom McDonald in a favourable position, he pinpointed his kick to the big forward. T Mac easily took the contested mark and went back to score from 30m out. Shortly afterwards, Trent Rivers had a lucky break when awarded a free kick, then a 50m penalty. No comment. His 50m set shot was terrific and Narrm had a handy nine point lead.

North was full of surprises though and they won the centre clearance launching the ball straight inside 50. Cameron Zurhaar gathered the loose ball and snapped a rocket from 45m. The ball sailed through for the Roos’ third.

Bayley Fritsch had a second chance on goal after his tackle near the square won him a free kick. His round the corner snap was textbook and the Dees had a ten point lead at quarter time.

Ben Brown was playing his 150th game and his work rate was as good as ever. Unfortunately he was having difficulty connecting with the target when it came to adding to his tally for the season. Possibly the pressure of the milestone was a playing on his mind.

Nick Larkey had no such distractions when he went back to kick his 40m set shot. There was no doubt that the Roos were feeling the passion and the home fans were ecstatic. Unfortunately, it was bad news for the Dees when Ed Langdon was subbed out due to the earlier incident in the first term. On the bright side though, it gave Toby Bedford another chance to gain some top flight game experience.

First though, there was the question of a resurgent North Melbourne. Cameron Zurhaar got his second goal when his set shot split the middle. The Roos were in front and the roar of the crowd was deafening. Luck was on Narrm’s side though as Tom McDonald was awarded a free kick to the side of goal. North’s fans were far from happy with respect to the Umpire’s allegedly dubious decision.

Tom remained unflustered by the crowd’s boos reigning down from above and slotted another round the corner kick for the Dees. The luck continued after Christian Petracca’s kick from 60m landed out on the full. Kyron Hayden kicked it straight to Bayley Fritsch who kicked straight into the goal.

Trailing by two goals, North would need to dig deep to win back the momentum they’d built earlier in the term. Then it got just a little bit harder when Kysaiah Pickett marked 40m out in the pocket and kicked as clean a set shot as you could wish for.

Cameron Zurhaar continued to keep North Melbourne in the game. His round the corner snap 20m from goal brought up his hat trick and it was back to twelve points. The Roos were definitely making a competition of it but Narrm were proving increasingly difficult to fend off. Then Kysaiah Pickett got in his own Demon zone and when he does that, there’s no stopping him. It was a case of receiving the handball at 60m out, then a bit of bobbing and weaving before launching a kick from 30m and watching it sail through.

North continued to duke it out with the Dees but were unable to add to their tally by half time.

A lead of twenty points going into the second half was a solid base to build on but the Dees continued to face challenges form the Roos. When Jack Ziebell marked the ball from 40m out and kicked the set shot, North was right back in it. They continued to give it a red hot go but Narrm dealt calmly with the pressure. The defence performed all sorts of acrobatics but continued to hold North Melbourne at bay.

Eventually, the pressure proved too much, and the dam broke. It was Tristan Xerri who provided the final input needed when he received the handpass at the top of the square and drop kicked the ball to make it a one goal game. The Roos continued to believe and continued to keep Narrm goalless in the third quarter.

That was until Ben Brown took a mark on the the edge of 50m. Brown saw Toby Bedford running into clear space and didn’t hesitate to place the ball ahead of him. It bounced just in front of the small forward and Bedford collected, ran on before kicking through the posts and high into the middle of the adoring Demon fans.

Ben Brown was involved again when his lumbering gathering and passing of the ball found Jake Melksham. The forward snapped it from 50m and watched it land on the correct side of the goal line. It was a cruel blow for North on the cusp of three quarter time but also illustrated why the reigning premiers have not lost a single game in the last seventeen outings.

At the start of the final term, Narrm looked intent on finishing the game in style and set off with a focused determination. It didn’t take long for the effort to pay off when a Charlie Spargo hand pass to Tom Sparrow saw the midfielder with enough room to turn and chip one into the open goal.

Tom McDonald is proving adept at marking the ball in difficult circumstances and the control to take the ball just under his chest was impressive. He went back and scored his hat trick. The thirty four point lead was now looking unassailable for North Melbourne.

Max Gawn has been relatively quiet in front of goal over the last couple of games but he had an opportunity when he was awarded a free kick 25m out form goal. Gawny has scored spectacular majors from 50m this year but the fans are still nervous when he’s closer to the target. They need not have worried as Big Max’s aim was spot on and the margin ticked up to thirty nine points. Immediately after the bounce, Bayley Fritsch had another and the Dees’ total was ninety nine points on the board.

Overall, it was another solid win. When you’re top of the table, there as no easy games but Round 11 will be a major test for the Demons. Though not as unblemished after two loses in a row, Freemantle are still a formidable side. Is there rain forecast for Saturday afternoon?

Go the Mighty Dees!!!

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