Daisy

January 22, 2023 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLW, Daisy Pearce, NSW Demons 

An evening with Daisy Pearce

Star-struck young girls and boys were among an enthusiastic crowd of Melbourne Football Club fans who came to see Daisy Pearce talk about life, the universe and the AFL Women’s Comp last Thursday night at the Pullman Quay Grand on Sydney Harbour. Despite the classic Sydney views visible from the hotel reception room’s windows, all eyes were on Daisy as the iconic Sydney ferries sailed by ignored.

Autographs were signed and some very junior hands shaken before the humble, generous and self-possessed Melbourne Football Club’s women’s comp captain told the audience of her love for AFL as a kid growing up in the Victorian country town of Bright. Disappointment followed when she reached an age where she could no longer play in games with the boys.

The older Melbourne-born women among us sighed in recognition and regret, remembering the 1970s when girls who dared bring their Sherrin to primary school had it confiscated until the end of the day with that infuriating headmaster’s refrain: “Football’s too dangerous for girls.”

Fielding questions from magazine editor Jackie Frank and later from an engaged and responsive audience, Daisy spoke of the contrast between the more DIY-style women’s AFL – where you strap up your own ankles and even clear rubbish from the ground before you play – and the newly established professional AFL Women’s comp where physios and other assistance are all on hand.
But before we get too pleased with the progress of women’s AFL, let’s remember that unlike her AFL competition-playing male counterparts for whom it’s a full-time gig, Daisy still has a day job.
She works as a midwife at Melbourne’s Box Hill hospital, something she says she also loves and that keeps her grounded. So there’s still a fair distance to go. But to quote an old advertisement: “You’ve come a long way baby.”

Sonya Voumard
2 March 2017

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In the illustrious shadows of Fred Fanning

December 23, 2022 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLM, NSW Demons, Our history 

Fred Fanning

Nigel Dawe

For the past few months, I’ve been meaning to draft up a tribute piece to commemorate the 75th anniversary of a feat that may never be beaten, let alone ever remotely challenged.

I’m of course referring to Fred Fanning’s haul of 18 goals, 1 behind in the last round (30th August) of 1947, a game that would also be his last (at 25-years of age) for the Melbourne Demons.

Fittingly, a movie released in the very same month of that very same year was called ‘Brute Force’ and starred an equally young ‘take no prisoners’ Burt Lancaster.

Another omen of sorts just one month prior to Fred Fanning’s final round goal feast against the Saints, was something equally otherworldly in the form of what’s become known as the Roswell Incident, in which debris of not just a UFO spacecraft was found, but allegedly the bodies of its alien pilots as well.

Relatedly, I have a number of framed pictures of Melbourne players in my house, but none feature more prominently than the one I have of Fred Fanning in ‘full flight’, having just launched one of his right foot rockets: it reminds me of an ancient statue of the god Hermes. For those that might not know, this fleet-footed deity with his be-winged sandals was apparently able to move between the worlds of the mortal and the divine, in addition to being the god of athletes, speed, thieves, magic and dreams.

While time lends many a feat the ‘quality’ and gleaned quandary of exaggerated myth and fable, the legacy of Fred Fanning is one that has shone confirmably, albeit unrepeatably from the very day he hung up his boots in the VFL at the Junction Oval, some 75-years ago.

If the 18 goals, with just the one ‘poster’ that came in the third quarter, in front of the sticks in his last outing (which totals 109 points alone) is not enough to make you shake your head in disbelief, then how’s the story Don Cordner would often recount about how running onto the field that day, Fred apparently turned to him with a grin and said, in Babe Ruth fashion: “I’m gonna bag 18 today!”

And that he did, after threading 10 goals the week before, taking his tally to 33 majors in the last three matches he played for Melbourne, that being an average of 11 goals in each of those games. No one in the history of the sport has gone even close to matching this ‘hidden’ statistic.

Magpie great, Gordon Coventry bowed out with 16 goals in his last three outings; even arguably the game’s greatest sharpshooter of all – John Coleman (who debuted with 12 goals in his first game and kicked a neat 100 majors in his first season) finished up his career with 21 goals in his final three appearances.

Seemingly, there was nothing diminutive about our burly #6 wearing Demon forward. That he couldn’t do anything by halves, constitutes Fanning’s most defining trait: as his mention in the Guinness Book of Records testifies – you’ll find him listed next to the longest kick (in any code of football) in the world. A young Fred Fanning dobbed a goal on the full from the very centre of the MCG (or exactly 105.5 mts) in the reserves Grand Final of 1939, the same day he kicked a lazy 12 goals for Melbourne!

Add to Fred Fanning’s footy CV – the most goals by a Demons player in one season (97 in 1947) and the highest average goals per game by anyone to wear the red and blue (3.95) in 104 games; the club best and fairest award in 1945, and you get a glimpse of what it takes to become an all-time great at a club like the Melbourne Demons.

After seeing a newspaper article written by Tony De Bolfo, 12-months before Fred Fanning passed away in 1993, a young Dees fan sent the legendary spearhead a self-addressed envelope with a myriad of questions and a card for him to autograph.

To this day, it’s one of my most prized possessions, and creates a direct mercurial link for me to one of the game’s most enigmatic figures. Interestingly, in Fred’s hand-written response, he made mention amongst other things, that his toughest opponent was South’s Jim Cleary; that kicking the first goal from the boundary line in the 1940 Grand Final was ‘unforgettable’, before rounding out with: “I was aware of Coventry’s record (of 17 goals).”

Which you can just imagine our red and blue colossus, fathoming how he was about to play his last game in the big league, thus set himself the challenge of bowing out with a bag that no one would ever forget, let alone come close to ever replicating again.

With that fantastically said, and signing off now for the last time in 2022, on behalf of the NSW Demons, whether or not you support the grandest team of all – have a wonderful festive season.

After claiming last year’s men’s premiership and this year’s women’s silverware (along with the men at Casey ‘flying the flag’) here’s to the thought of a bountiful, truly beautiful, red and blue hued 2023!

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Spring has sprung… Melbourne Demons are the AFLW Premiers!

December 3, 2022 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLW, Daisy Pearce, NSW Demons, Our history 
Tayla Harris goals in grand final

AFLW – Grand Final Brisbane V Melbourne

Nigel Dawe

Watching, and then trying to convey something about a team winning a grand final at any level, let alone your own team’s inaugural premiership, at the most elite level – is like seeing a pinata torn wide open from a great height, and then trying to determine which goodie you want to find and explain first.

Well, after seven seasons the AFLW crown has finally gone to the Daisy Pearce-led Melbourne Demons, at a location that few of us had even heard of little more than a fortnight ago… but one now, that none of us will ever forget – Springfield.

Heading to the game by car, I knew it was going to be a good day when the first turnoff from the highway to the ground heading north was #31, and the second was #11, all we then needed was a turnoff #2, and that would’ve been the most famous three guernsey numbers in the club’s history.

There was no turnoff #2, but once we arrived at the ground it became quite evident that the numbers were stacked in the Lions favour… to the tune of 20 (Lion fans) to each of our 1.

Which only meant the barracking had to be more vigorous and committed than at any other time or at any other game we could ever be in the attendance of (as such, I’m hoping I get my voice back at some stage between now and Christmas!)

Having watched footy my entire life, I can’t recall a game (let alone a grand final) that was more on a knife-edge for the whole duration of play, than this one. Throughout the day I kept pondering a comment Norm Smith once made along the lines, “Football is one hundred minutes of agony, but it’s an agony I love.”

Never did solitary acts and singular, selfless deeds across the entire field become so consequential and determining of a final result. As such, if Hanks’ lunging contested mark on the outer wing with 20-seconds of the game to go, didn’t seal the win, then her next possession – a laser-like pass to Purcell, forward of the centre square – certainly did.

With little more than one straight kick in it all day, the final result provided an eerie parallel with Melbourne’s first ever VFL premiership, 122-years prior – which was by the same margin against the same team – a four-point win against the then Fitzroy Lions!

But that said, November 27th, 2022 will eternally belong to the women in the team of the red and the blue, they clocked and thoroughly locked in this day as their very own, forever! With grit and a steely-eyed will to win, they took the grand old flag to a place – against all odds, it has never been before – the Premiership dais of the AFLW.

As a doting Dad who took his own 9-year-old daughter to her very first game of footy on the weekend; the beauty and lasting resonance of this occasion wasn’t lost on me for a second. It’ll be something I tuck away at the back of my mind in highlight fashion, like the day she was born and handed to me wide-eyed and curious of her surrounds. Or the day I wrote her the haiku poem: ‘Every daughter is a rainbow across the sky of her father’s soul.’

But it’s thanks to the women, both on and off the field last Sunday, like Daisy Pearce and Kate Roffey who have paved the way – so my own little girl might one day share the big stage (of whatever forum) without any constraints caused by gender, or because of any subsequent preferential bias given to boys.

Thus, leaving the stadium, holding my daughter’s hand and both of us singing A Grand Old Flag, I couldn’t have been more chuffed; at not just the game our team had won, but what it represented for my own little girl, and girls like her across the country – for the dreams and opportunities it now makes infinitely possible.

That my Alina was the happiest and most delighted I’ve ever seen her, is a measure and gleaming testament to something I just can’t wait to see much more of.

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Demons Storm the Bastille

December 1, 2022 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLW, Daisy Pearce, Sponsoring Olivia 

AFLW – Grand Final Brisbane V Melbourne

Jacqui Parry

When the Demons squad are standing out on the field and they hear the Lions song before the start of the Grand Final on Sunday – we’ll be singing these words:

We are the pride of Springfield town
We wear the Demons Red and Blue
We will fight like Hell for victory
Like the Demon Squads of old

All for one and one for all
We will answer to the call
Go Lions back to Brisbane – (without that Shiny Cup)
We’ll kick the winning score
You’ll hear our mighty roar – (and then you’ll hear):

The Grand Old Flag

It’s a grand old flag, it’s a high-flying flag,
It’s the emblem for me and for you,
It’s the emblem of the team we love,
The team of the Red and the Blue.
Every heart beats true, for the Red and the Blue,
And we sing this song to you,
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
Keep your eye on the Red and the Blue.
 
Oh, the team played fine in the year Thirty-nine,
We’re the Demons that no one can lick,
And you’ll find us there at the final bell,
With the spirit of Twenty-six.
Every heart beats true, for the Red and the Blue,
And we sing this song to you,
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
Keep your eye on the Red and the Blue.

We are going to Paxinate them!!

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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.

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