Helter Skelter – Melbourne V Richmond

February 13, 2021 by · Leave a Comment
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Bannan goals

Liam Chambers

With the breeze at their back in the first term and an away win last week, the Dees could have been forgiven for feeling confident. However, they were on the back foot from the opening minute when Sabrina Frederick snared the ball from the pack in front of goal. Tegan Cunningham, sitting on the bench, could only look on as Frederick put the Tigers on the score sheet.

Melbourne was possibly a little complacent against the unfancied Tigers but were quickly shaken out of their comfort zone by a determined opposition. While Richmond were going full throttle, Melbourne scrambled to get into their forward half. When they succeeded, ex Dee Harriet Cordner was there to spoil the play and pick up the wayward sherrin. Why do our former players always try extra hard against us?

Richmond was looking in total control until Tegan Cunningham marked and converted from a tight angle, using the breeze to her advantage. However, even though Richmond were kicking and marking well, they fumbled and dropped important marks in their forward fifty. The Dees had to go hard and fast to contain the Tiger’s onslaught but Daisy Pearce and Tyla Hanks in particular were making important interceptions.

Sinead Goldrick showed great kicking ability to get the ball to Shelley Scott, who marked it beautifully but unfortunately couldn’t convert. A clever kick to Courtney Wakefield almost gave Richmond a confidence boosting goal after the siren but it was just outside her range.

After being dominated for the best part of the opening quarter, we needed to strike back early on. On cue, Alyssa Bannan duly obliged. First by taking a mark from an excellent Jacqui Parry kick, which she converted for her first goal. Then, less than a minute later she took another mark, this time from a booming long kick courtesy of Shelley Scott and notched up her second AFLW goal.

Richmond could have been forgiven if they viewed these events as a setback but they continued to play on with even more determination. It was testament to Melbourne’s experience that they were able to contain the waves of aggressive play from the Tigers. The veterans Daisy Pearce and Karen Paxman have showed no signs of slowing this year and Shelley Scott almost added to the score sheet but was unable to hit the target.

With Krstel Petrevski continuing her good form from last week, there was some promising signs from the young guns. While we still scrambled in defence, we frustrated the Tigers, who just couldn’t get the reward for all their intense effort. When Katie Brennan hit the post near the end of the term, I almost felt sorry for Richmond. Almost.

With a two goal buffer, Melbourne need to consolidate their lead at the start of the second half. The in form Lily Mithen’s kick to Kate Hore was cleverly tapped off the outside of her boot to extend the Dees lead. An unfortunate injury for Krstel Petrevski saw her limping off the field, having to be supported after what looked like a damaged hamstring. Hopefully it doesn’t spell the end of her season. Our bad luck continued when Jacqui Parry, having marked beautifully in front of goal missed from her ensuing set shot.

Tyla Hanks, always under the radar, continued to show great vision and kicking ability. The Tigers were pouncing on everything though, not giving Melbourne any free passes. Kate Hore was lucky to be awarded a free kick for a dubious sling tackle in front of goal. She wasn’t complaining though and took advantage of the opportunity to kick her second goal and give the Dees a comfortable twenty three point lead heading into the final quarter.

Richmond surged again, continually pushing into Melbourne’s defence but couldn’t quite break through. Though the Dees scrambled, they looked very dangerous when they got the chance to push forward. Karen Paxman’s superb kick to Eden Zanker was beautifully marked but was a wasted opportunity with the Dees unable take advantage.

At the other end the Tigers weren’t paid for Harriet Cordner’s tackle as their run of bad luck continued. Even though Richmond looked the better side at times, it was the Dees’ experience that showed. Lily Mithen was having a good game, turning and kicking, frustrating the Tigers. Then a brilliant Tegan Cunningham mark on the edge of the 50m line, eventuated in Shelley Scott marking the ball to the left of goal. Scott doesn’t missed too many set shots from that position.

With the game in the bag, Melbourne relaxed and were marking better, able to slow the play to their advantage. Even in a mad goal square melee, Shelley Scott was able to flick the ball out to another veteran in Karen Paxman. Paxman didn’t waste any time snapping the loose ball between the uprights.

Richmond fans would have been truly frustrated to see their team play so well and lose so badly. Finally though, after the Tigers threw everything at Melbourne, Sarah Hosking got a break and put through Richmond’s second from a set shot.

We face North Melbourne in Round 3 at Casey Fields but we are the undisputed underdogs and the tipping competition gives us a 17% chance of a win. The Roos will be the real deal but I seriously object to being given such a miserly chance of success. Come on Dees! Let’s wear our 17% with pride and kick some Kangaroo butt!

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Dees Stare Down Suns

February 4, 2021 by · Leave a Comment
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AFLW Round 1 – Gold Coast Suns V Melbourne

Liam Chambers

It was a shaky start for the Dees. The Suns began aggressively and were rewarded almost immediately when Jamie Stanton opened the scoring. Fatigue was a concern for Melbourne after an early morning flight to the Gold Coast and the long wait before the game. There was plenty of fumbling and dropped sherrins in the attempt to infiltrate the Suns inside 50.

Tyla Hanks stood out early on; tackling and marking well but Melbourne struggled to find any flow. When Leah Kaslar kicked the Gold Coast’s second, they looked comfortably in control. The Dees’ play was sloppy and they turned the ball over too frequently. Even though Gold Coast only got inside 50 twice in the first ten minutes, they took advantage both times.

Finally though Melbourne got a break when Hanks’ great kick to Kate Hore was nicely marked and the forward converted cleanly for the Dees’ first of the afternoon. The next goal had a little assistance from the Suns when Tegan Cunningham was awarded a 50m penalty. The ensuing shot in front of goal gave the Dees a confidence boost.

Unfortunately Sarah Perkins, having lost none of her abilities as a play maker decided it was time to respond. After some good interceptions and kicks, she marked the ball twenty five metres out just before the siren, the conversion was a foregone conclusion. Perkins was apparently ineligible to be drafted by Melbourne in 2021 despite having played finals for us last season. We can only speculate what a difference she would have made to the Dees side this year. One thing’s for sure, she has that relatively rare ability to be a game changer.

When Melbourne got the first goal of the second quarter via an Eden Zanker mark in front of goal, they looked to have shifted up a gear. Karen Paxman was stamping her mark on the game. Maybe the Capperesque style haircut was having an impact. Tyla Hanks continued to display some very accurate kicking, influencing the run of play. It was Paxman’s great kick from the 50m line to the goal square that set up Melbourne’s fourth. The ball sailed into the pack where it was knocked down and quickly gathered up by the dynamic Krstel Petrevski, who kicked it straight between the uprights.

The misfortunes continued for the Suns when another infringement gave Shelley Heath the chance to score her first goal. Then Cunningham was awarded a free kick, after being ankle tackled from behind, and scored the Dees’ fourth unanswered goal.

The Suns had a chance to get one back with a brilliant run of play involving the kicking abilities of Sarah Perkins; giving Brittany Perry a chance to score from a set shot in front of goal. The footy gods were smiling on Melbourne though and she sent it wide. Kate Hore wrapped up the quarter with her second goal, scoring from 20m after being awarded a penalty for a high tackle. The Dees went in at half time with a handy twenty two point lead.

Having tallied up 19 disposals in the first half, Karen Paxman went straight the top of the Suns’ most wanted list. Her first touch of the second half saw her brought down by three of the opposition players. Time for Karen to take a step back and find other ways to influence the game. Daisy Pearce continued in her defensive role, strategically marking and kicking when the Suns got too close. Lauren, the other Pearce, was also having a positive game and taking important marks.

The Dees next goal came from another Gold Coast infringement thought. Having made progress with some aggressive forward pressured Melbourne was rewarded when Krstel Petrevski had a set shot opportunity from 35 metres out. However, confusion over the new rules meant she kicked her second goal from point blank range. However, Brittany Perry made amends for her previous miskick and penalty giveaway by slotting in the Gold Coast’s fourth from another set shot.

The Dees reacted immediately with Lily Mithen putting herself behind the group in the goal square. When the ball fell behind the other players, Lily was able to scoop it up and evading two Suns’ defenders, kicked Melbourne’s ninth of the afternoon.

Gold Coast continued to mount the pressure but Daisy Pearce was doing a sterling job at the back. Tyla Hanks was also in top form thwarting the Suns play and even tackling Sarah Perkins into the bargain. Perkins had her revenge though when she caught the Dees’ defence napping with a minute to go. She judged the kick coming from the 50m line perfectly and converted the mark for her second. With Gold Coast’s confidence boosted, Melbourne were left defending desperately with less than sixty seconds on the clock; only just denying the Suns right on the siren.

The last term was a case of all or nothing for Gold Coast and they went storming in. Fatigue was starting to show with the Dees fumbling and dropping the ball, reminiscent of the early part of the first quarter. Daisy got a bit complacent and didn’t see Sarah Perkins in the rear view mirror until she felt the Suns’ forward embrace bringing her down to earth.

Melbourne were being corralled as the Gold Coast maintained their forward pressure. Occasionally the Dees would break free and head towards goal. Kate Hore almost broke through for her hat trick but she bounced too early, slowing and was brought down inside 50. Lauren Pearce’s marking in the final term was pivotal in containing the Suns but it was Shelley Scott who almost put in the final nail when her kick from thirty five metres just sailed wide. In the end, the Suns were unable to take advantage of the all the pressure they put on Melbourne. Experience showed and the Dees managed to slow down the game with each side only managing one minor score a piece for the quarter.

Next round is against Richmond at Casey Fields. Even though the Tigers have improved since their very poor debut season last year, we would be wise not to take anything for granted.

Go The Mighty Dees!!!

Melbourne: Cunningham 2, Hore 2, Petrevski 2, Heath, Mithen, Zanker.
Gold Coast: Perkins 2, Perry, Kaslar, Stanton.

Shelley v Tex

Petrevski goals

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Season 2021 – Look Out, Here We Come!

January 23, 2021 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: NSW Demons, Our history, Our stories 

Nigel Dawe

Neither a monkey or even a dust mite on our backs this year!

I don’t know if you’d call it hard core, committed, neurotic, fanatical or just ridiculous, maybe it’s a swirling, churning one-eyed combination of all five, but ever since I was a kid I have ‘occupied’ myself during the final credits of every film with trying to recognise or fleetingly pick out any famous Melbourne Demon last names.

As such, I don’t think I’ve ever spotted a ‘Barassi’ or a ‘Warne-Smith’ represented in any capacity of a matinee film; however, the other day after having sat through near on 3 hours of ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ with my 7-year-old daughter, I spied (and I’m not making this up) a ‘Lyon Beckwith’ in the film’s credits!

Not sure about you, but having a first name after perhaps the best player we’ve had at the club in the past 50 years and a last name after a two-time premiership captain from the ‘50s, would have to be an absolutely one-off celluloid occurrence, not to mention a red and blue referential miracle.
Needless to say, with me there is no pre-season, post-season or outright season in itself when it comes to the Melbourne Demons figuring, or pardon the pun ‘featuring’ in some daily way in my heart and mind. But that said, this pre-season is shaping as one of the most promising and talent crackling affairs that I can ever personally recall.

Our bounding, fit and seemingly balanced mix of players aside, it’s the cast that we’ve managed to assemble (almost by stealth) in our coaching and administrative quarters, that has me daring to believe and now menacingly murmur – “Yes, this will be our year!”

At some point over the passing of seasons, I remember hearing and retaining a comment made by the great (now in his 95th year) dual-premiership captain – Noel McMahen along the lines, “not until you fill the four heads [being Chadwick, Warne-Smith, Norm Smith and Cardwell] in the famous ‘Architects of Five Premierships’ photo, will you see anything like the success of what we saw in the ’50s and ’60s.”

Without lumbering the calamitous weight of expectation on the shoulders of our current ‘equivalents’, I’m looking so forward to seeing the collective effects generated by Alan Richardson, Mark Williams, Simon Goodwin and Gary Pert, add on a seasoned Adem Yze for good measure, and you have that aforementioned photo recreated, and then some.

While there’s quite a lot of talk around the traps about our club having the longest current premiership drought (57 years of silver-less Septembers to be precise) I don’t see this as being either a monkey or even a dust mite on the back of anyone associated with the club.

Football is a game played in a stand-alone, year-by-year fashion by players that live and die (without sounding too gladiatorial) by their exploits in ‘real-time’, such things as ‘seasons without a premiership’ are light years away from the realm of any footballer’s direct sphere of influence or control. That our oldest current player in Nathan Jones was born in 1988, puts into perspective the illogical chronological conundrum of holding anyone physically accountable for an overall inter-generational lack of success.

As for ‘premiership windows’, I always cringe when I hear this modern-day dupe of a phrase, for mine, like the best of budding cat burglars – every year is a premiership ‘window’ to be scrambled into in red-hot pursuit of the ultimate loot. If you don’t agree, then refer to the ‘Baby Bombers’ of ’93 or the marauding Hawks of ’08, to name just two supreme groups that came from the clouds to pull off the ultimate of ‘steals’.

I’d love someone to have mentioned such a ‘cute’ inanimate concept like a ‘premiership window’ to the game’s brimstone coaches of by-gone eras like Norm Smith or Checker Hughes; the notion of not having the troops committed or competent enough to win the competition in any given season would’ve absolutely confounded them.

Similarly, in the words and rollicking ‘Ocean’s 11’ spirit of perhaps world sport’s most celebrated and successful coaches of all-time, Vince Lombardi once ‘unpacked’ his approach to such things, by matter-of-factly saying, in his very concise ex-school teacher way (and something that could now well suffice for a rallying catchphrase for our primed Dees of ’21):
“Want it; desire it; earn it; take it.”

Architects of 5 premierships - Chadwick, Warne-Smith, Norm Smith and Cardwell

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Percy Beames – the game’s first three-time Grand Final best on ground performer

October 27, 2020 by · Leave a Comment
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Percy Beames

Nigel Dawe

The celebrated German thinker Georg Hegel once said: “Philosophy is a gallery of heroes of thought” and if he’d have grown up in Victoria at any time after 1858, then I dare say he may well have come up with the equally fitting line: “Footy is a gallery of heroes of sport.”

But humour aside and that said, I was prompted on a serious note to draft up something today to honour not just this season’s, but the game’s outright forgotten Demon, and inaugural triple Grand Final blitzing trail-blazer.

Not to take anything away from Dustin Martin, because his performance the other night in Brisbane was something all footy fans may well never forget; I say ‘may well’ because that is exactly the fate that awaited our fleet-footed boy from Ballarat, Percy Beames – the game’s first three-time Grand Final best on ground performer (in the consecutive Melbourne winning teams of 1939-40-41).

I’m not sure if it’s a simple case of oversight or just plain over-exuberance on the part of the footy community to extol the performances and virtues of a contemporary player (and ours wouldn’t be the first generation to fall into the same wide-eyed and appreciative trap) but I can’t imagine the same snub of a player’s efforts (irrespective of how long ago they ‘took place’) occurring in a sport like American baseball. That country’s ‘national sport’ is unlike any other in terms of the reverence they ensure is afforded ‘recollecting’ the memory and exploits – to a fact and stat, of their greats.

Not that it’s ever a safe or even a wise thing to compare the performances of players from different eras, though it is a fascinating undertaking: one not unlike wading into a thick smoke-filled house lined with a thousand haphazardly placed mirrors. But where the blur clears somewhat, enough to gain a glimpse of clarity for the purposes of an informed opinion, is in the basic tale that the stats tell.

Of the three Grand Finals Percy Beames and Dusty Martin left every other player in their tenacious wake, it’s worth first mentioning that Beams scored a total of 12 goals (as a rover) to Martin’s 10 goals (having played on the half-forward line in two of his three Grand Finals).

Again, this article is not about proving who performed better or is more earning of ultimate bragging rights, but the incredible ‘given’ of Beames’ big dance outings, was the fact he lined up against the white-hot calibre of captain and Brownlow medallist of both teams in 1939 (Harry Collier) and 1941 (Dick Reynolds). The 1941 heroics of Beames are made all the more extraordinary when you consider that Reynolds was an absolute all-time great, not to mention a triple-Brownlow winning trojan!

Then factor in Richmond’s Captain Blood, who literally prowled the turf for opposition scalps in the ‘hit-out’ of 1940, and you have the gleaming stage upon which Beames rose to stamp his authority on the toughest game of all, three times-in-a-row.

So as to clearly establish the standing and place that Percy Beames occupies at the club (he was the first Melbourne player to reach 200 games, as well as being a handy cricketer, and the only player in the entire post 1897/VFL-era to captain both the MCC and the MFC) you have to look no further than the fact there is a ‘Percy Beames Bar’ in the members section of the MCG. I don’t know about you, but that would have to take the cake, albeit eternally warm the grand old spirit of any former great!

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Victory But No Glory

October 2, 2020 by · Leave a Comment
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Round 18 – Essendon Vs Melbourne

Liam Chambers

We won the battle but lost the war. Even Max Gawn’s offer to take out a Dockers’ membership had no affect on the final top eight. Life is full of what ifs and if onlys but the truth is we are the ones in charge of our destiny; however much we wanted Fremantle to triumph. There’s an old saying “never grow a wishbone, where your backbone ought to be”.

Despite some wobbles along the way, there were promising signs for the Dees in 2020. Christian Petracca finally began to fulfil his potential. Congratulation on making the All Australian squad. Commiserations to Steven May, who was nominated but didn’t make the final cut. A travesty of justice. Both players were important in the Dees win against Essendon, alongside Jayden Hunt (returning to form) and Bailey Fritsch (managed to surprise the opposition when they least expected it).

With Mitch Brown continuing to mark well, his early attempt to convert didn’t make the distance. Similarly Bailey Fritsch’s effort a few minutes later missed the target. Jayden Laverde got the first goal for the Bombers. Then another Jayden (Hunt) replied almost immediately. Finding a pathway to inside 50, he launched a forty metre kick for the Dees’ opener. Melbourne continued to display patience, building up to a good position and getting the ball to Fritsch. Another great grab inside 50 but again, one he was unable to convert.

When, right on quarter time, Jake Stringer took a mark from a driving midfield kick, Simon Goodwin thought about leaving the Coaches box. Instead he turned around, waited and watched through his fingers as Stringer kicked Essendon’s second after the siren.

Back from the break, the Dees continued their patient build up, sticking to the plan and not panicking. They strung some nice moves together via Joel Smith, Fritsch, Sam Weiderman and finally to Petracca just inside 50. Tracca briefly thought about taking the shot before spotting and kicking to Alex Neal-Bullen in the pocket. Neal-Bullen took his time to catch his breath before bending back a great shot on goal.

The pace picked up after that and it was third time lucky for Fritsch, marking near the goal after being left unattended. Melbourne’s fourth goal was a display of extreme team politeness when Petracca launched the ball inside 50 to Charlie Spargo. Spargo passed to Weiderman who decided Hunt was a better option as he ran towards the goal square. Hunt took the gift and ran in his second.

When Neal-Bullen took a hospital pass from Petracca, he was lucky not to be crushed between two Bombers. Managing to slip through at the last second, he bullet kicked his second goal from forty metres out. Encouraged by his team’s goal kicking display, Simon Goodwin took an early trip to the sideline in what looked like being a big payday for the Demons. Goody wouldn’t have been disappointed to see Clayton Oliver’s kick and Petracca’s accurate mark on the inside 50 line. Tracca’s ensuing shot from sixty metres was outstanding.

Essendon needed to claw their way back but Max Gawn wasn’t going to make it easy for them as he continued to dominate in the ruck. Even though Melbourne maintained control of the game, they struggled to put it beyond the Bombers’ reach. Finally Kysaiah Pickett was able to weave some magic with a nice pick up and pass to Hunt, setting up a shot from just outside 50 to record his hat trick. It looked a case of signed, sealed and delivered for Melbourne.

Then just before three quarter time, having absorbed all the Dees’ pressure, Essendon got the ball up the ground and into the waiting hands of James Stewart, twenty five metres from goal. Having left the door opened a chink, Melbourne gave their opponents a small glimmer of hope. That hope needed to be stuffed out in the first few minutes of the last term but instead the Bombers decided to make a game of it. When James Stewart got back to back goals, he reduced the margin to twenty one points.

With renewed confidence, Essendon piled on the pressure, forcing errors from the Dees. Initially their efforts only resulted in minors scores. Then Joe Daniher, who up to that point was only a glorified spectator, began to look decidedly more confident. Melbourne’s defence held up well though and when Hunt got a fourth against the run of play, it again looked all sewn up.

The Bombers weren’t finished though and Devon Smith restored the margin. Another twist and James Stewart again marks in front of goal. Three minutes to go and Dylan Sheil kicks another from forty five metres. Suddenly it was a seven point game. Nobody in red and blue wanted to lose this vital game, least of all by a few points right on the siren.

Cue the cavalry. In the midst of a desperate confusion, Jake Melksham collected a spilled ball and kicked to an unmarked Fritsch, who ran towards goal, easing the pressure that threatened to derail the Dees’ season. Melbourne then launched an outright attack to maintain the momentum.

Mitch Brown was awarded a fifty metre set shot and used his time wisely before kicking. The ball dropped lower as it approached goal but was tapped back into the field rather than over the line. Fritsch didn’t waste the opportunity and snapped it back for another goal. With a three goal margin, the Bombers were out of options and the Dees gave themselves a chance to play finals.

We know now that the other result didn’t go our way but we can take heart and continue to rebuild.

Go the Mighty Dees and bring on 2021!!!

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