Wednesday 15 May 2013

Demonblog's 100 greatest MFC wins 1965-2013 (Part 1)

From the files of Demonwiki, and from personal memories and submissions by readers/Tweeters we present the first installment of a top 100 of great MFC wins in the non-premiership era.

Matches have been ranked based on their importance at the time, the circumstances surrounding the match and of the actual game itself - and this is why some finals rank below seemingly bog standard Home and Away matches.

Parts two to seven will follow eventually.

There's no time to get our own icons done up, so let's do a straight rip-off of Skype instead.

- Anger
- Big wins
- Come from behind wins
- Finals wins
- Heroic individual performances
- Injury trouble
- Involved Addam Maric
- Shenanigans
- Stolen victories
- Thrillers
- Umpiring controversies
- Why can't you do this every week?
- Winning streaks

Got that? Then let's get on with it.

100 -
Round 19 2010 - Melbourne 16.13.109 d. Richmond 11.14.80

A third straight win, leaving us with an outside chance of playing finals. Lynden Dunn kicking five, Mark Jamar dominant in the ruck and Chip Frawley doing his usual demolition job on Jack Riewoldt. We had the world at our feet that day, what went wrong? Answer - everything.

99 -
Round 21 1978 - Melbourne 15.16.106 d. South Melbourne 11.19.85

Despite having won their first match in five months on the previous Saturday, the Demons were still three games clear at the bottom of the ladder so it was expected that they would return to their normal form against a South Melbourne side who were still in contention to play in the finals.

South had to keep winning to stay in the race for the five, but after being a point in front and one behind at half and three-quarter time respectively the Demons ran away with the game in the last quarter.

Even though Melbourne had just got back in the winners circle the vultures were still circling for coach Dennis Jones. Before the match a group of supporters were distributing leaflets outside the ground calling for the Demon administration and Jones to be sacked.

Jones had a rare win on the coaching front, with moves of Tom Flower to the wing and Barry Norsworthy from rover into the middle of the ground being pivotal in the victory. At the end of the match the coach was seen gleefully stomping on the 'reform group' pamphlets in the locker room. He would ultimately be sacked at the end of the season anyway after just one year in charge when the Demons 'won' the wooden spoon.

98 -
Round 16, 1967 - Melbourne 7.12.54 d. Footscray 7.9.51

Norm Smith had missed the second half of the previous week's match with heart trouble, and he was forced to step aside and let his deputy John Beckwith coach the next game on his behalf. For a man with heart issues it was a very good game to miss, with the two sides slogging out a poor quality first three quarters before playing out a grandstand finish. Footscray had stolen a late win in their first meeting of the season, and this time it was Melbourne's chance to repay the favour.

In the last minute, with Footscray three points in front, Ken Emselle snapped a miracle goal over his head to give the Demons victory and Beckwith a win on debut as a coach.

Smith returned the next week and the Demons tested his heart with another thriller, losing to Fitzroy by four points. Beckwith took over as coach in his own right the next year.

97 -
Round 22, 2007 - Melbourne 21.13.139 d. Carlton 15.18.108

Rarely could Melbourne fans go to the footy nearly certain that they'd be seeing a win, especially during 2007, but with Carlton looking at a draft bounty for losing the match it was fairly clear to all involved that there was no way the Blues would risk gun recruit Matthew Kruezer and another top pick by winning the match.

On the other hand if Melbourne lost they could not only cost Carlton their priority pick but depending on the margin also drop below the Blues on the ladder and pocket draft pick two instead of four.

With Clint Bizzell, Nathan Brown and Byron Pickett all having announced that they would reitre after the game the Blues looked good early, but only managed 1.7 to show for their domination. With Travis Johnstone under distinctly little defensive pressure and on his way to a career high 42 possessions in what would also end up being his last appearance for the club, the Demons kicked seven goals in the first quarter to take a match winning lead.

The margin barely shifted from the six goal quarter time lead as both teams played out the rest of the match like a glorified training session. Melbourne fans have not been as sure of a win since, and they might never be again.

96 - 
Round 7, 1968 - Melbourne 11.14.80 d. Hawthorn 11.10.76

Clinging on to the coat-tails of the top four the Demons had lost two in a row, so four injuries in training during the week in addition to concerns about several others - including Stan Alves and Brian Dixon - made their task against the Hawks even harder.

Despite Tassie Johnson holding the deadly Peter Hudson to three goals for the day when Hawthorn went into the last quarter 28 points in front the match looked over. It was then that Melbourne stormed home by kicking four goals to none to be within six points late in the term.

With seconds left it looked as if their comeback had been for nothing as best on ground Hawk Ray Wilson had the ball in hand, ready to kick his side clear. However Wilson's kick sailed out of bounds on the full, and from the resulting free kick Brian Dixon, playing through his injury, pumped the ball forward where it bounced off a pack and onto the left boot of Barrie Vagg who kicked the winning goal. The siren went as the ball was flying in the crowd.

The Demons had kicked 5.2 to nothing in the final term, with four of the goals coming in the last eight minutes and Johnson having blanketed Hudson for the whole final term.

95 -
Round 6, 1991 - Melbourne 17.11.113 d. Collingwood 10.17.77

After weeks of racking up big scores the Demons slowed down a bit against Collingwood, but in front of over 55,000 people at Waverley they still ran away to a popular victory.

Darren Cuthbertson had kicked seven goals in a record score against North Melbourne a week earlier, and to prove that it wasn't just a fluke on a day when anyone could have kicked goals he repeated the dose against the Magpies - beating four opponents, including Denis Banks twice, and taking a 'mark of the day' screamer on route to his second straight haul of seven.

Collingwood kicked themselves out of the game early, and when the wind picked up in the third quarter Melbourne took full advantage. Kevin Dyson was dominant in the midfield, and first gamer Andrew Ford took gladly to the task of tagging the dangerous Tony Shaw. After Ford had comprehensively defeated Shaw, Leigh Matthews was forced to get him away from the first gamer by using him to tag Todd Viney - but it had little impact on Viney who had 33 touches.

94 -
Round 10, 2006 - Melbourne 15.13.103 d. St Kilda 13.12.90

After five wins in a row the Demons had suffered a defeat against West Coast in a top of the table clash the week before. They came up against the Saints celebrating David Neitz breaking Robbie Flower's all-time club games record and another winning streak (six games) was kicked off by a dominant goalkicking performance by the champion forward.

Neitz kicked Melbourne's first three goals, and was his side's only multiple goalkicker as they opened up a six goal lead at half time. St Kilda made it interesting by kicking five goals in the third but Melbourne steadied to hold on to win by 13 points and stay a game and percentage inside the top eight.

93 -
Round 4, 1965 - Melbourne 12.8.80 d. South Melbourne 11.11.77

The Demons won the first eight games of 1965 before the wheels fell off, Norm Smith was sacked, and we never won a premiership again. Despite the impressive string of victories for the defending premiers they were lucky to win several of the matches, sneaking through by small margins.

South were the third team in the first four wins who the Demons of old would have beaten comfortably - and they shouldn't have won at all. The Swans had been the much better team all day, fanatical in hunting their opponents around the MCG, and Melbourne were lucky to be 14 points in front during the third quarter before South kicked 4.5 with no reply to grab the lead.

With victory in their grasp South let it slip, allowing Hassa Mann to find Barrie Vagg on his own in the goal square to drag one back - and then in the last few minutes Mann marked on a difficult angle and found Barry Bourke in a better position. With 18 seconds to go the future car magnate slotted the goal and Melbourne won.

It was a controversial finish, as film footage later showed that Mann had dropped the mark before his pass to Bourke. Even Norm Smith himself admitted that umpire Blew - who had previously threatened to sue him - had gotten it wrong.

92 -
Round 11, 2006 - Melbourne 22.9.141 d. Collingwood 14.10.94

With both sides in the top eight approaching the halfway mark of the season 78,773 turned up - the biggest crowd for a Melbourne home and away match since 1971 - and they saw a rampant Demon side tear Collingwood apart.

The pre-match entertainment played heavily on the glory days, with Shane Woewodin paraded around the ground and members of the 1956 premiership team in attendance. Stuart Spencer provided an original 1956 penny for the tossing of the coin, and it was a good luck charm for the Demons as David Neitz won the toss and chose to kick with the wind.

In the end the breeze wasn't a factor, with sides kicking goals into it all day - the Demons kicked four goals in the first term but it was their seven goal third which set up victory. The two sides broke even in the final term but the damage had already been done.

Both sides would be knocked out early in the finals. Exactly one year later a narrow Melbourne win over the Pies on Queen's Birthday Monday was seen as a major upset.

91 -
Round 9, 1971 - Melbourne 10.10.70 d. St Kilda 10.7.67

Under new coach Ian Ridley the Demons won the first five games of the season, and despite a Round 6 loss against Collingwood they rebounded to earn wins over both North Melbourne and Geelong which lifted them to second on the ladder.

With the Demons' finals drought entering its seventh year there was much interest in Melbourne's winning streak and the question of whether they could get back to their 'rightful' position in the finals after having dominated the league for a decade from the mid 50's onwards.

Despite having won seven of eight the Demons entered the match as underdogs against the fifth placed Saints in the eys of many journalists. Percy Beames, writing in The Age, said "St. Kilda has definate advantages over the Demons" in height, weight and physical strength", and only two of the eight Age tipsters picked Melbourne.

By 5pm the experts had been proven wrong, and it started to look like there was no way that the Demons would miss out on playing finals football.

In a tight match Melbourne had to struggle to take the four points. The two sides traded blows across the first three quarters, and St Kilda went into the final term seven points in front. Melbourne had already been forced to mount one comeback during the day, kicking 4.3 to nothing late in the second term to steal a lead at the long break.

The Saints then kicked unanswered five goals during the third term, and it looked like they were on their way to a big victory before two late goals by Paul Callery kept Melbourne in touch. The Demons hit the lead five minutes into the last term and for the rest of the day not a single goal was scored. From there St Kilda managed just three behinds, falling short of victory.

It was the high point of Melbourne's season. They would win just three more games for the season and finish in seventh place, three games and percentage outside the top four.

90 -
Round 11, 2007 - Melbourne 13.16.94 d. Collingwood 11.15.81

The Demons went into 2007 as a popular selection to be Victoria's best contender for the flag, but failed dismally - not winning a game for the first 10 matches of the season. Despite having broken through the previous week it was expected that Collingwood would firmly put them back in their place on Queen's Birthday.

In front of more than 70,000 people Melbourne were perhaps fortunate but got their second win in a row. Russell Robertson was dominant with seven goals on debutant Danny Stanley after his first opponent Harry O'Brien left the game with an injury.

At the other end Ben Holland - who had been a late replacement for Adem Yze - was matched up on Anthony Rocca and set to work negating the dangerous Collingwood forward with tactics that skirted the boundaries of what was and wasn't legal for a defender to do. Despite the howls of protest from Magpie fans he was left largely alone by the umpires and restricted Rocca to one kick for the afternoon.

Six goals in the first quarter gave Melbourne a commanding lead, but by three quarter time Collingwood had cut it to three points. It looked like they'd run over the top of a side who had thrown away several late leads during the year, but Melbourne steadied and when the siren went the ball was in Robertson's hands with a seven point lead on the scoreboard.

Robertson went back and slotted his seventh from a tough angle. During his celebrations a Collingwood fan showed their appreciation for his performance by lobbing a can at him, which whizzed just past his head.

After the match Brad Green suggested that the Demons could still make the finals based on their performance over the previous fortnight. They ended up finishing third last.

89 -
Round 10, 2007 - Melbourne 13.11.89 d. Adelaide 10.12.72

After a nightmare first nine weeks of the season the Demons finally broke through for a drought busting first win. They had thrown away leads several times in previous weeks, most notably against North Melbourne a week earlier, and when the third placed Crows started to come at them in the final term it looked as if they might once again suffer a heartbreaking defeat.

Despite five goals to one the Demons held on to win and break their duck for season 2007.

88 -
Round 1, 2003 - Melbourne 16.10.106 d. Hawthorn 15.10.100

In their first competitive match since a shattering defeat at the hands of Adelaide in the 2002 finals series, Melbourne entered 2003 as popular picks to finish in the finals again. The year ended very badly for them, and they would only win four more matches for the year, but it started well.

With the missing Ponsford Stand causing tricky wind conditions the two sides struggled to come to terms with it, and Melbourne struggled to adapt in the first quarter.

Melbourne took a 20 point into the last change, and extended the gap to 38 points before Hawthorn booted six in a row into the wind to level the scores deep in the last quarter. When James McDonald was carried off in a neck brace near the end of the game after landing heavily on the back of his head in a marking contest it gave the Dees time to regroup and shortly afterwards Brad Green steadied to kick the winner from a set shot 45m out and give his side a win to start the season.

McDonald recovered to sing the song in the rooms afterwards and was cleared of serious damage.

Round 2, 1992 - Melbourne 17.11.113 d. Geelong 15.15.105

After a 1991 season where the Demons had become one of the highest scoring sides in the competition and unearthed what appeared to be a champion full-forward in Allen Jakovich fans were forced to wait a week into the new season to see them in action due to a bye.

In front of the new Southern Stand for the first time Melbourne and Jakovich failed to disappoint, beating the highly fancied Cats and Gary Ablett. Geelong had lost a tight encounter with premiers Hawthorn the week before, and Ablett had been restricted to one goal. He was coming off his worst season as a key forward, kicking just 28 goals, but was still a dangerous option.

The job of curbing Ablett fell to John Howat who restricted him to 3.2 while Jakovich was tormenting Geelong's defenders at the other end. Malcolm Blight had stuck with Tim Grath after his nightmare debut for the club a week earlier but by the nine minute mark of the second quarter Jako had four goals and Malcolm Blight was forced to move him.

With Brownlow Medallist Jim Stynes dominating in the middle of the ground and Jakovich tearing Geelong's defence apart Melbourne opened up a 24 point lead at quarter time and maintained it to the long break where Blight was forced to switch Ablett into the middle and Bill Brownless to centre half-forward.

The moves paid dividends, and for the first time all day Geelong started to get on top. They wasted many chances in the third quarter and should have been in front at the start of the final term, but it didn't take long for them to go in front during the last quarter. Melbourne regained the lead after Mark Bairstow caused a free kick to be reversed and Garry Lyon's kick found Todd Viney for a goal, and Blight dragged his star player before leaving him on the bench for the rest of the game.

Without Bairstow the Cats couldn't bridge the gap, and Melbourne held on to win, thanks in part to debutant Andrew Lamprill kicking an improbable goal from the Olympic Stand pocket midway through the final term with his first and only kick for the day.

86 -
Round 7, 2011 - Melbourne 22.17.149 d. Adelaide 8.5.53

Despite a draw and two wins in their first six games of the season the Demons, and coach Dean Bailey, had come under heavy scrutiny after a poor performance in a loss against West Coast in Perth nine days earlier.

With the extra time to regroup, and with the media circling around Bailey, his side put in a vintage performance. Despite losing Jack Grimes to a foot injury early in the match, and it later being revealed that Mark Jamar had injured himself as well, Melbourne obliterated the Crows on the back of the devastating Jamar/Brent Moloney combination which won a record amount of centre clearances.

The two sides were close at quarter time, but it was false hope for the Crows who had conceded nine scoring shots to two. Melbourne were still just 14 points in front at half time before they turned on an eight goal to one quarter to put the match out of Adelaide's reach, before adding another eight in the final quarter to record their all time record victory against the Crows - and a much needed relief for the embattled coach.

85 -
Round 2, 2004 - Melbourne 20.15.135 d. Richmond 12.4.76

Melbourne's rollercoaster ride of the late 90's and early 2000's had seen them plummet from finalists to just five wins in 2003, and after being comfortably beaten by Hawthorn in the first game of the new season not much was expected of them for the rest of the year.

Richmond had also been a disappointment in 2003, winning just two more games than the Demons, but had recorded a surprise win against beaten grand finalists Collingwood in their first match of the season and their supporters were hoping for more of the same against the under pressure Dees.

As a response to continued in-fighting within the club 50 past players and high profile supporters walked the boundary before the game as a show of unity, before David Neitz delivered a performance that would have made any of them proud.

Melbourne kicked the first three goals of the match and had a four goal lead at quarter time to take the wind out of Richmond's sails. The Tigers attacked in the second quarter but found their attacks being repeatedly defused by Clint Bizzell, dominant across the backline, and although they kicked the first goal of the quarter and three for the term Melbourne had six - including the last three. Neitz ended the half on five goals.

Richmond stemmed the bleeding in the third quarter, conceding just four goals, but couldn't find any reliable source of scoring of their own. Neitz started the final term on eight goals and when his teammates kicked the first three goals of the last quarter the margin blew out to 70.

Richmond added a belated four in a row before Neitz kicked his ninth to finish the match. He could have had a shot for his 10th from 50m out deep into the last quarter but instead passed the ball to second gamer Aaron Davey instead.

Melbourne went on to make the finals while Richmond would finish last.
Elimination Final 2002 - Melbourne 18.14.122 d. North Melbourne 11.18.84

After the last few years it seems rude to say it, but this was the lowest key final of the 1987-2006 era, played between two teams who hadn't even finished the season with percentages over 100 (Melbourne had 99.9 and North 98.8).

North had suffered a surprise loss to the West Coast Eagles in the last round of the season which ensured they finished below Essendon, sparing Melbourne a clash against the more fancied Bombers, and the Demons duly started favourites despite a severe shortage of key defenders and patchy recent form - including a battling win over lowly St Kilda in their last match of the Home and Away season.

In the end Melbourne did the job, kicking four goals in eight minutes during the second quarter to overhaul an 11 point deficit and take a 21 point lead into the long break. North pegged them back in the third quarter, but after kicking the first goal they attacked solidly for the next 15 minutes without making significant inroads into Melbourne's lead - kept at bay by a defence being held together by Chris Lamb and Paul Wheatley.

North's comeback finally came in the last, and with seven minutes of gametime remaining they were just 15 points behind. It took a cheap free kick in the goalsquare which helped Peter Vardy register his fifth goal to release the pressure, and Travis Johnstone kicked the sealer minutes later.

Melbourne advanced to a matchup with Adelaide the next week, in a game which should feature in this list but doesn't for obvious reasons...

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