AFL 4 years ago

8 Positives, 2 Negatives

  • 8 Positives, 2 Negatives

No, it's not the drug testing record of an East German swimmer. It's our look at the Demons year so far...

1.The Wins Against Carlton and Essendon

From a footballing point-of-view, the Crows win, in Adelaide was possibly more impressive, but beating two local rivals instilled some pride in the city's AFL team. Getting one up on the Blues had felt like a lifetime coming, and Essendon were sweetly repaid for last year's humiliation.

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2. Nate Jones Co-Captain

Club legend in the making. The bald beacon of hope in the drudgery and mire of recent seasons. Nathan Jones always deserved more than his teammates offered, but he still put everything on the line. He knows no other way.

His appointment as co-captain has recognised him formally as the figurehead for the club. He talks eloquently and honestly in interviews, and always leads by example.

A very smart move.

3. Paul Roos on AFL360

As Sportsbet-sponsored videos show, Paul Roos deserves worshipping by Demons fans. What he has done, in just 14 games of football, other coaches would be proud of in 3 seasons.

Always looking at matters even-handedly, and never getting too excited are two main characteristics of Roos in the media. Which doesn't sound fun, but when he's on AFL 360, as the straight man to the oft-surreal Bomber Thomson, talking absolute sense on all matters footy in a Melbourne polo, makes you feel very proud indeed.

4. The Handling of Mitch Clark's Retirement

The saddest story of this year. Losing Mitch Clark was a massive blow, and everytime we go forward and Dawes seems to be surrounded by 18 men, you can't help but wonder.

But the club's handling of Clark' retirement was dignified and well-managed throughout. Mental illness is an issue the game really needs to get a hold off and Melbourne set an example for other clubs to follow.

For people untouched by mental issues in their friends and families, the situation seemed unfathomable, a bloke with the world at his feet, at the club we love, earning big money to score goals giving it up. The entire club's response educated people and most importantly, supported Mitch and the welfare of it's players.

5. Dom Tyson and Christian Salem Making a Mockery of Damian Barrett

Never in the history of the world has one man been so wrong.

If a Demon called the world round, Barrett would have a column up in minutes with his sources suggesting it's flat

His call on Melbourne's decision to effectively trade the pick of Josh Kelly for Christian Salem and Dom Tyson was idiotic. GWS had a depth of young midfielders, Melbourne had none.

Swapping a higher draft pick for a lower one and a squad player made absolute sense for both parties.

And that was before Tyson and Salem took to the park. Tyson has been an absolute gun, a ready made star at 21, racking up possessions offering much needed quality on the ball.

Salem scored with his first kick, has provided moments, like single-handed palm, turn and pass against the Crows and the smothers and winner against the Bombers, of sheer class.

For years the Demons were a drafting disaster. In one trade, the ghosts of draft picks like Morton and Gysberts were finally laid to rest.

6. Pedersen, Dunn, Jetta All Like New

The quality of a coach can be seen in what he gets out of his players.

If the trajectory of the careers of Cam Pedersen, Lynden Dunn and Nev Jetta continues under Roos has skyrocketed.

If the great coaches ever meet round a table to rowdily count each other's Premiership medallions and work out who's the best, Roosy will say nothing till the end.

After all the medals are counted, Paul will stand up and say, "Nev Jetta. Rookie-listed before pre-season, drafted in, kept Chapman, Wingard, Betts and Elliot to 40 possessions between them. Cam Pedersen, played 26 games till the age of 27, became an ever-present, marking and tackling machine in one season. Lynden Dunn, a sub forward on the verge of being de-listed, turned into a backman in All-Australian form."

The other coaches will gather their medals, bow their head and silently leave the room.

7. Chris Dawes Smashing Opponents

Chris Dawes is a cult hero. With no Hogan and no Clark, Dawes was given the help of effectively a rookie forward in Frawley, and some draftees. He has taken on backlines by himself, and is eternally swamped by defenders.

But then, when the game looks gone, the opposition will be slowly moving the ball around and BAM! Dawes comes in and flattens someone. Immediately, the crowd go up, the team lift and the Demons raise their game.

Everybody loves Dawesy.

8. Jack Viney Case

Before Jack Viney had no option to turn his shoulder to avoid rib injury against the Crows, there had been nothing but years of bad press for the Demons.

If the papers were paying attention it was because of 186 point defeats, tanking allegations or Liam Jurrah going to court.

But when Jack Viney was suspended for the bump that never was, the game got behind the Demon. His tenacity and determination are what the game loves to see, and the Match Review Panel made everyone worry for the future of our game.

You knew it was a bad decision when Damian Barrett supported it.

The subsequent acquittal was a moment of relief for everyone, but for the Demons it was also a moment of redemption. Finally, the press had good things to say about a Demon, finally they were on our side.

And the not so good....

1. Jesse Hogan's (Not) Back

This was supposed to Jesse Hogan's 2014. The Chinese were all set to replace their dragon symbols with images and look-a-likes Melbourne full foward to bring in the new year.

And, as a personal plus. for someone who writes about the Demons, it was going to be brilliant. The headlines would write themselves, the words  'Hulk' and 'Heroes' thrown around with reckless abandon. Brilliant

But then, after a NAB Challenge Trophy Shield Cup game, a back injury was sustained which has prolonged his absence from AFL footy possibly till 2015. At first it was like a carrot to fans, 'he'll be back in 4', or 'he'll be back in 2', and finally the acceptance of 'indefinite.'

His long-term future is obviously the most important thing, but gee, it would have been great to see him alongside Dawes this season.

2. Jack Trengove's Foot

Remember Jack Trengove? Talented kid, played at the start of the season? Victim of the worst captaining choice in history?

Poor Jack. In a year of Demon's list exploding into confidence and producing performances we'd only dreamt of, Trengove has been stuck with a plaster boot on.

Everybody knows the talent is there, but the weight of an entire club in it's worst ever season absolutely crushed him last year. This season, free of captaincy, surrounded by rejuvenated players and the likes of Vince, Cross, (how they both haven't been mentioned so far is criminal) Tyson and Salem, he could have really fulfilled his huge potential.

Next year, The Red and Blue is willing to bet, under Roos in a more attack-minded set-up, Trengove will be like a ready-made top draft pick.

Conclusions so far?

For the first time in a long time for the Melbourne footy club, the start of this year has not been looking wistfully at the past, but being excited about the future.

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