AFL 4 years ago

Demons Transformed in 9

  • Demons Transformed in 9

Richmond 9.20 (74) vs Melbourne 14.7 (91)

Paul Roos has been Melbourne Demons coach for 9 games. Nine. 9. That's how long it's taken him to rejuvenate a fanbase, a playing list, and an entire club.

Never has one man made such a big impact on one club in such a short space of time.

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Pre-Roos, the consensus among fans was our vast portions of our list was of VFL standard. A rabble of drafting blunders, cast-offs and players eyeing moves at the first possible opportunity.

An overhaul was a necessity, and places at Casey Scorpions were reckoned to have waiting lists, until the perceived 'deadwood' could be cast upstream.

Paul Roos, contrary to everybody who witnessed the car crash of the Neeld era, has proven they were AFL players all along, just ones struggling with sub-VFL levels of training and suffering from dangerously low levels of confidence and plummeting self-belief.

Nothing proves this point more than when players are called into this Demons side. When called upon, Neville Jetta, Max Gawn, Mark Jamar and Jimmy Toumpas have come into the side completely unrecognisable from the players we knew from last year.

Mainstays of the team, the likes of Cameron Pedersen, Rohan Bail and Matt Jones have been transformed from also-rans into quality players, not only competing in contests but winning their one-on-ones. When Pedersen dominates, like he did on so many occasions today, it's a near beautiful moment as Demon fans look around at each other with a look of incredulity, amazement and sheer delight.

Add the quality of Dom Tyson, Daniel Cross and Bernie Vince to Jack Viney and Nathan Jones, and though the teamsheet may look familiar, not only the list but the entire club feels transformed.

The strength of the self-belief in each other is speeding up the play, it's taken 9 rounds but players are anticipating their teammate winning a duel and moving ahead of the next possession. Moments of flair, like Jack Viney's peach of a side-step and the all-round display of the mercurial Jack Watts are now coming to the fore.

It may feel like it, but Paul Roos isn't a magician. He hasn't had enough time to teach these guys how to play from scratch. He's merely reminded them how good they already are. And slowly, game by game, they're starting to believe him.

Melbourne fans expect instead of the deserved headlines of Demons downing the Tigers and Crows in the space of 3 rounds, pundits will launch inquests into how Richmond could have the temerity to kick 20 behinds and dare lose the Tom Hafey tribute game.

But as Paul Roos pointed out in his post-match confrence, Tom Hafey's tribute game was not just for Richmond, but for the sport as a whole. As dictaphones doubtlessly recorded hours of bleating about how Richmond couldn't do it for a club legend, Roos was right to point out this honest, arm wrestle of match was played out in the spirit Hafey would have been proud of.

The truth of the game, however, is this was never Richmond's to throw away.

Simply put, the Tigers lost because the Roos' transformed Demons beat them.


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