At Melbourne’s Annual General Meeting, Chief Executive Officer Peter Jackson argued that the club should be aiming to make the finals by 2016 – so next season, or for the jaded amongst us, exactly 10 years since we last played in (and lost!) a final.
Ten years is a long time between drinks.
For many supporters, even one more season is too long to wait to see the Red and Blue playing September footy again. And I don’t blame them for a second – since the last time we played finals I’ve finished high school, University and puberty. No mean feat for a serial procrastinator like myself.
But let’s look on the bright side for a second. For a whole generation of Demons, there was never any worry that exams and late-semester assignments would clash with any crucial end of season or finals matches. You could reliably book a holiday for September before prices jumped for the school holidays. And there was always the draft to look forward to, right?
Except not really. The only thing worse than not playing finals for ten years is not playing finals for ten years when your little brother is a Collingwood supporter. And he goes to their Grand Final replay. For free. And they win.
So, why should we, the long-suffering supporters, wait until 2016?
Our backline might have become one of the tightest in the competition last year but if our win-loss ratio tells us anything, it’s that we’re still not ready. We took it up to the Tigers, Blues, Crows and Bombers – we know we can do it. But the short-lived “retirement” of Mitch Clark left us with a gaping, tall-bulky-forward shaped hole at the business end of the ground which try as he might Chris Dawes simply couldn’t fill without some serious back up.
We spent a whole season playing with a forward line that was missing its number one key forward. The defenders might have gotten their act together and started doing some serious defending, but the midfield still has a bit of maturing to go. And the forward line? As long as Jesse Hogan can ward off injury between now and Round 1 (touch wood! Touch all the wood!), this will be the first time we’ve fielded a full forward line since… you know what, I can’t quite remember.
It’s important not to rush it. We’ve come a long way since the days of being smashed from here to Kingdom Come down at Geelong. We can make a respectable showing against most teams, remain competitive and even stick it up some old enemies when the time is right.
But we’re not ready for finals just yet. In 2015 we’ll see, hopefully, the seeds of our next premiership team being firmly planted in the soil of the football field. And from then, it’s just a matter of time.