Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Demonblog's 100 greatest MFC wins 1965-2013 (Part 2)

(Recap: Part 1)

It's not like I deliberately waited until the end of the season to write this in case something unbelievable happened and forced its way in. It was just pure sloth, but surprise surprise everything worked out perfectly and we won one game against another ordinary side in unconvincing fashion. So, everything's in place to continue, with the next edition scheduled (at this rate anyway) to appear sometime shortly before the 2014 season starts.

Again let me remind you that many of the suggestions came from YOU the reader, so don't blame me if your favourite match ranks badly or doesn't turn up at all. Combined with the files of Demonwiki here's the next instalment - but first a reminder of your key to decoding the icons for each match.

- 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

83.
Round 9 1993 - Melbourne 14.17.101 d. West Coast 13.10.88

A game that might otherwise be remembered as Brett Lovett's 150th or Greg Healy's last is instead rightly remembered for the incredible antics of your favourite and mine Allen Jakovich.

After an injury hit start to the season, something that would happen more and more often over the next couple of years, he'd been forced back to the Reserves for the first time since he tore the competition apart in 1991. A month in the seconds saw him respectable hauls of 5, 3, 8 and 7 - but in a year where Mathew Mackay kicked nine one week and Darren Cuthbertson booted 13 in a Qualifying Final it didn't seem a fitting tally for somebody who had destroyed the league's best full backs on many occasions over the last two seasons.

Having played a seconds match the previous week while his senior colleagues had the bye Jako was recalled to a side which had just lost to Fitzroy by a point to leave them above only perennial mid 90's failures Brisbane, St Kilda, Richmond and Sydney on the ladder.

In all fairness Garry Lyon provided better value for money on the day, with his three goals coming from 27 disposals and 10 marks - but the abiding memory of the whole afternoon will always be the moment where he got entirely overexcited at levelling the scores with a booming kick from outside 50 and grabbed his brother for a smooch. It was one of the most ludicrous things ever seen, and even Channel 7 couldn't ruin it by momentarily cutting away to some idiot in the crowd just as the kiss was planted.

Jako's goal capped a comeback which had seen the Demons recover from a 15 point deficit at quarter time and 24 at the half. They had been terrible inaccurate, but led by Lyon, a dominant ruck performance by Jim Stynes and Jako's insane exuberance they were able to run out 13 point winners and stay within touch of the top six.

The season wouldn't end well for anybody, Melbourne managed 10 wins but finished two games out of the six in a group that stretched down to 12th on the ladder, and by Round 19 Jako was back in the Reserves - but he still had some more brilliant performances to come...

82.
Round 11 1993 - Melbourne 24.16.160 d. Collingwood 16.13.109

By mid-1993 Jakovich was like Amy Winehouse by the time she made this remarkable television appearance, a troubled soul who had parlayed amazing natural talent into fleeting superstardom only to be about to stuff it all up, fall out of favour and wind up dead and buried well before time.

He would struggle on through 1994, and a handful more thrilling performances when not chronically injured, but his nine goal haul against the high flying Pies was the last time he went close to matching his famous demolition job of North Melbourne two years earlier.

Approaching the mid-point of the season Collingwood had been top just a few weeks earlier, before a defeat to Fitzroy (which lifted the Lions to fourth on the ladder, which is hard to believe now) saw them replaced by North on the much derided 'Match Ratio' measurement. They were flogged by top of the table North by nearly 90 points the week after, but were still expected to bounce back comfortably against a decidedly mid-table Demons side who had just lost to Carlton by nine goals.

Enter Jakovich, supported by the most unlikely cast of goal kickers in history. Rod Grinter's late career conversion from a mass murderer to a forward netted four goals, Peter Rohde kicked three after managing just 12 in his previous 130 games and Matthew Febey - a man who ended his career with the decidedly naff figures of 44.60 - plundered the relatively well credentialed Pies for two goals of his own.

Even debutant Scott Simister managed to go forward and snag a goal after starting his first game in defence and, quite frankly, making a total hash of it in the first half. He went on to become an accomplished goalkicker in the SANFL and the WAFL afterwards.

But the Flying Nobodies who made up the rest of the forward line were clearly playing second fiddle to Jakovich. During the last off-season I started writing a 'retro review' of this game which still lies unfinished, but I did see something which seems almost unfathomable now - the great man actually passing when in a goalkicking position. Modern history would have it that he'd shoot from anywhere no matter how ridiculous, but I saw it with my own eyes - in the opening minutes, having already given away a free and missed two marks he kicks to a free Todd Viney inside 50 in a way that we can only hope is going to be replicated by Jesse Hogan and the younger Viney several hundred times in the next decade. Todd then makes a mockery of Collingwood's loose defence by chipping a pass to Rod Grinter even closer to goal who tires of all the stuffing around and just boots the six pointer.

For all the excitement of Jako both kicking goals and setting them up there's a hint of disaster to come, as after a flying shot at goal he clutches at his back. Tragedy would eventually strike, but that's for a future post - at this time he was still king.

81.
Round 4 1987 - Melbourne 21.13.139 d. St Kilda 14.8.92

For once it's not about what one of our players did, but rather what they faced. Never before had a player contributed so much to his side's total score and still come out on the losing side but Tony Lockett must have wondered why he bothered when he booted 12 of his side's 14 goals and still played in a 47 point loss.

Melbourne could afford to be torn apart by Lockett, because none of his teammates were giving any sort of performance. Many of the Demons goals came from fumbling into the forward line and finding nobody there to stop them.

Steven Stretch comfortably beat Nicky Winmar and added two goals of his own on the run and Melbourne kicked eight goals to one in the second quarter to swing a nine point deficit into a 39 point lead at half time.

Steve O'Dwyer, playing his first match, comfortably accounted for the St. Kilda ruckmen and his form allowed Peter Moore to sit at full-forward and boot four goals. The fiery O'Dwyer was also reported on debut for striking and suspended for two matches.

After kicking just 1 goal in his first 31 games, Graeme Yeats went forward for the Demons and kicked 3.2. 

80.
Round 15 1979 - Melbourne 24.23.167 d. South Melbourne 24.10.154

To say the 1979 Demons were disinterested in defence would be an understatement. Looking back after having spent two seasons wondering if we'll kick any goals at all it's almost tempting to look back at a season where we won six games but put up losing scores of 81, 82, 96, 103, 111 and 140 and say "what a dream that must have been". Compare the two seasons, sure they conceded more points (+68) but good god they also kicked 84 more goals. Just for a second think how much more enjoyable you'd have found this year if we'd kicked 3.8 more goals every week? The answer is HEAPS.

Unfortunately the 1979 Melbourne Football Club list will suffer from the same curse as their 2011 counterparts. What would have otherwise been a forgettable season, nowhere near their worst, is marred by one ugly record breaking performance. But at this point we're still two weeks away from what should probably be known simply as 190.

The Dees still had a warm-up game against Carlton (conceded - 19.26.140) before they got to that apocalypse, but on this particular Saturday at the MCG they managed to win one of their token absurdly high scoring, indiscriminate shootouts.

In the end it was inaccuracy that won it - both sides finished on the same goal total but Melbourne had 47 (!!!) scoring shots to 34. Peter Thorne was the hero in front of goal with six goals in his 10th career game, but it was the triple threat of Robert Flower (30 touches), Glen Elliott and Greg Wells (33 each) who revelled in the collective lack of interest in defence by going on a freewheeling rampage probably not seen again until Travis Johnstone's performance that night when Carlton weren't trying.

Maybe there was something about having a playing coach which stopped our ability to concede enormous scores (as opposed to apparently having a non-coaching coach as we did for the first half of 2013), but at least Ditterich parked himself away and let Garry Baker do the heavy lifting in the ruck - giving the dominant midfielders an armchair ride. The defenders were battered, but it didn't matter because the Dees had just racked up a win that might not have been huge but at least it was memorable.

It remains Melbourne's equal 14th highest score in league football...

79.
Round 2 1978 - Melbourne 24.23.167 d. Fitzroy 23.19.157

... alongside this game. And while it's hard to separate two such similar results, I feel this game was more meritorious as a response to a disappointing 79 point Round 1 loss to Hawthorn rather than taking advantage of a day where quite simply nobody could be arsed going near their opponent.

This result was also more of a team effort, with 12 different goalkickers helping coach one season coach Dennis Jones score his first of a handful of victories before being unceremoniously given the arse as coach at the end of one season after finishing last with five wins. Five wins eh? Not so bad in retrospect was it.

Anyway, it was the second quarter that did the trick - with the Demons piling on 10.8 to 3.4 to open up a 44 point lead and earn a standing ovation from the members as they left the ground. The members had gone off early, because Fitzroy turned up to play from midway through the third term. Melbourne kicked the first three of the third term to stretch the lead to over 11 goals, but a reshuffle of the Lions forward line saw them storm back to be within three points in the last term.

What would have been an amazing comeback was thwarted by a steading goal from Andrew Moir, who had come off the bench, and another from Greg Wells to seal victory despite a nine goal haul for Lion Bob Beecroft. Henry Coles had 33 touches, as did Wells who would have exactly same in the similar game against South Melbourne a year and a half later.

Melbourne won three of the first seven then didn't have another victory until Round 20. One of their losses saw them set the tone for what would follow in 1979 by scoring 141 and still losing to St Kilda by 63 points. What a thrilling era this must have been.

78.
Round 13 1987 - Melbourne 8.9.57 d. Hawthorn 6.8.44

For most of the period from 1965 to 1986 the phrase "Melbourne's finals chances were hanging by a thread" could usually be applied by a lazy, cliche hungry journalist, from round three onwards. In 1987, however, the Demons had managed to make it to the midway point of the season very much in the hunt for a finals berth.

It didn't hurt that the first year of the properly national VFL competition was ridiculously level. Even a loss to the Brisbane Bears at Carrara hadn't totally harpooned their hopes of breaking 'the drought'. Nor did a loss to second last Footscray in Round 8 after a pair of victories over mid-table mediocrities Collingwood and Richmond.

By the time they ran out against Hawthorn in front of a pitiful crowd of 7631 at Princes Park they were ninth, two games behind fifth placed Footscray but just two games in front of second bottom St Kilda. Anybody hoping that they'd stay in the race instead of doing 'the Melbourne thing' and free-falling to the bottom of the ladder would have shuddered in horror at the prospect of having to beat Hawthorn to stay in touch with the five.

The Hawks were second on the ladder with a percentage of 143.7 and had won their last five - including victories of 119 over Essendon and 95 over Brisbane. Jason Dunstall had kicked 30 goals in those wins - though curiously only one the day his side destroyed the Bombers.

Melbourne's forward line hopes rested on the far less accomplished David Williams, who had just missed three games and would finish the season with the not terrible (by our current standards) but highly inaccurate figures of 39.48. Dunstall, on the other hand, kicked 94.

When the quarter time siren blew with the Demons on a solitary point, 18 behind on a quagmire of a field, it looked as if the obvious was going to happen. Williams was being mauled by defenders every time he went near the ball, and when broke free to have Melbourne's first shot on goal for the whole game entering time-on in the first quarter he hoofed it straight out on the full.

Hawthorn's fast start was as good as it got for the home team. Their three first-quarter goals were matched by just three more for the whole match. Sean Wight held Dunstall to one goal for the game, Yeats and Grinter took control of the half-back line and the relentless pressure of the Demons saw them grind away to take a one goal lead into the last change. In the middle Brian Wilson overcame the handicap of being violently ill at half-time to come out on top in his battle with Peter Schwab, and Adrian Battiston successfully quelled John Platten after the 'rat' had made a fast start.

The match could still have been lost, but to the delight of the handful of Melbourne loyalists who had turned up, Williams kicked two decisive goals in the final term to win the game for his side. One put them 10 points in front, the next came after he fumbled the ball in the goal square, picked it up, fell over and still managed to get back to his feet and snap truly.

The win didn't improve Melbourne's position - it left them two games outside the five - but it meant they were still alive, and even a disappointing 48 point loss to Fitzroy the next week didn't kill them off like it would have if they'd dropped the four points at Princes Park. They lost again the week after, but come Round 18 John Northey's side hit top form and fell into the finals on a dramatic last day which may or may not feature extremely highly on this list.

77.
Round 16 1990 - Melbourne 17.12.144 d. Essendon 15.16.106

After three consecutive years in the finals a slump in the middle of 1990 left them in danger of falling out of the five. Three losses in a row - including one to North Melbourne by 127 points - left them a game inside the finals but with an inferior percentage to four of the five sides below them.

A fourth loss in a row may have proved fatal, and a trip play top of the table Essendon on their home soil was a recipe for disaster. The Bombers were 41 points in front in the second quarter, and nothing John Northey could quelled their dominance. His side barely chipped away at the lead and by the 11 minute mark of the last term they were still 34 points behind.

It was then that Northey switched Garry Lyon to the centre, and Lyon's presence helped finally deliver some decent service to Darren Bennett who kicked four last goals amongst an avalanche of seven in 11 minutes, to get his side over the line and sure up their spot in the five. They wouldn't loss another game until that year's knockout semi-final against West Coast.

It was one of Melbourne's great comebacks, but two seasons later Essendon would repay the favour on our turf with a vengeance. And that is VERY MUCH a game for another list.

76.
Round 21 2000 - Melbourne 18.18.126 d. Geelong 17.6.108

In what circumstances could you possibly imagine a crowd of 75,033 showing up for a Melbourne vs Geelong game today. There are none (finals? Unlikely), but that's exactly what happened just 13 years ago.

Australia was riding high on sporting fever at this point with the Sydney Olympics just around the corner, and much of the absolutely ludicrous crowd were there to see the Olympic Torch paraded around the MCG for the first time since 1956 rather than the match itself - that it was between two in-form and finals bound sides was a bonus. There were all sorts of ceremonies, but for those who us who showed up to watch football we got to see Melbourne gloriously book themselves a top four spot.

The Cats threatened to spoil the party by taking a 20 point lead in the second quarter, thanks chiefly to first gamer Marcus Baldwin who took the idea of average players saving their best for against the Dees to extremes by booting three goals with his first three kicks in league football only to manage just two more for the rest of his career.

Once Baldwinmania had run out of steam the Demons regrouped, five goals from David Neitz and a dominant 35 touch, four goal game from Shane Woewodin helped them gradually overhaul the visitors. They took the lead at three quarter time and won relatively comfortably in the end - taking advantage of a surprise Collingwood victory over North Melbourne to lessen their chance of having to play the dominant Essendon in the first week of the finals. Defensively Andrew Leoncelli and Peter Walsh made the difference, blanketing Gary Hocking and Ronnie Burns after they'd run riot in the first half.

It was the day that Woewodin won himself a Brownlow, and you can debate the merits of his two votes in the last match of the season which broke the tie with Scott West until the cows come home (actually, in fact you can't because there is no way in hell he deserved them) but he was unbelievable on this day. The sort of game that if it were played by Gary Ablett today would lead to a mass outbreak of frottage across Australia. I've told the story many times over of how I put a casual fiver on him to win the medal at 200-1 before the start of the season, but this was the point where I started to think it was actually a chance of happening. He even managed to start a brawl and get away without being reported for it. The man could do no wrong.

In short it was a great day out for everyone in red and blue except Paul Hopgood who never played another game.

75.
Round 15 1997 - Melbourne 18.11.109 d. Carlton 15.10.100

A bit of a personal favourite this one, having grown estranged from the club for pretty much ever since Jakovich left my Carlton supporting school chum @damorob convinced me to go along to my first game in the best part of two years, clearly relishing the chance to hang shit on somebody who followed a pox team. Bad luck @damorob.

Melbourne had won just two games in the first 14, sacked a coach and kicked the absolutely outrageous score of 3.9.27 against Port Adelaide - about the only outrageous disgrace that the 2012/13 era didn't manage to beat (but we went close often enough).

With Steven Silvagni sent forward - and why wouldn't you against what would be our lowest scoring 22 game season team ever until this year - the Blues should have continued their good work from a five goal first quarter and gone on to win, but the Demons led at every change from there to record a surprise victory. While Todd Viney was the architect of the victory in the midfield it was four goals from the not long recovered from total knee crockage David Schwarz that made the difference.

At the final siren I must have been showing too much exuberance because some middle aged peanut in front of me in the bottom deck of the Southern Stand jumped up, turned around, stuck an accusatory finger in my face and yelled "THE UMPIRES GAVE IT TO YOU". I just laughed at him and said words to the effect of "yeah, and wasn't it great?" and managed not to get punched in the gob.

The fire was relit, I've been wasting significant chunks on my life on this club for stuff all reward ever since. Thanks very much @damorob.
 
74.
Round 11 1990 - Melbourne 15.9.99 d. Carlton 13.15.93

Another match ranked higher than it possibly deserves to be due to personal memories. My first ever game, and the one that made me answer the quite sensible question of "whose number do you want on your jumper" with the totally stupid answer of "54!" after witnessing another young first gamer boot five.

A sensible adult would have pointed out that either Heaver would never be seen again or would quickly switch to a better number, but my poor mother had no idea about footy at the time and was only being dragged along because nobody else would take me. She gladly rolled into Myer the next day, bought the jumper and ironed on the numbers. Heaver changed number the next year and I was left with the number that doesn't appear to have been given to anyone in 1991.

Numbers in the mid-50's were very much in vogue on this particular Queen's Birthday Monday. The margin got out to as much as 55 points in the third quarter before Carlton decided to turn up and play. Melbourne just held them at bay in the end, lucky that there wasn't another two minutes in the game, and they could thank the fact that Carlton only had two reliable routes to goal all day - Steven Kernahan and Mark Naley (who?) both kicked five.

So does it deserve to rank this high? Probably not. But who's writing the list? Exactly.

73.
Round 22 2005 - Melbourne 13.17.95 d. Essendon 12.13.85

It's not so much the quality of the game itself, after all Essendon were complete wank in 2005, but what it represented. The conclusion of three of the more remarkable weeks in the modern history of the football club. It's not a significant spoiler to say that the two games which preceded this one will rank highly on this list but even though the last hurdle involved just falling over the line against a side which was a shadow of itself it was still magnificent.

The ravages of time mean that I can only remember one specific incident from this game, but luckily I've got the Demonblog archives to help me flash back to a simpler time when finishing 9th was our biggest worry. Apparently the game was painful to watch, most of our fans sat there in silence for much of the day and half the Essendon supporting crowd were more interested in winning just to stuff our finals chances rather than leaving them with one nice memory from an otherwise painful year.

Essendon took an early lead, but the unheralded defensive alliance of Nicholson, Carroll and Wheatley held firm to give our forwards - ably led by Russell Robertson and Brad Green - time to recover, and by the last change we were three goals ahead. The Bombers, our nemesis in 2000 and 2004, had seemingly been shaken off for good. We even kicked the first goal of the last quarter, but then the bastards came back. They could have even snatched the lead, but the best part of five minutes we sat on a five point lead with the ball in their forward line.

It was then that the unlikely combination of Steven Armstrong and Shannon Motlop combined to send the ball inside 50, where Aaron Davey shepherded his opponent out of the way in possibly illegal fashion allowing the ball to drop in front of Russell Robertson - the hero of the game in Geelong a fortnight earlier. Robbo snapped across his body and the ball landed in the square only to take the arsiest bounce for years (until the Port one this season) and fly in for a goal.

The Demonblog records will show that I still wasn't happy. What a spoilt arsehole, you'd think I followed a good team. In fact I was such a tosser at this point that I didn't even bother going to the finals as I couldn't be arsed taking a day off work. Oh yes, never fear there are PLENTY more finals around the corner. No need to cherish each one like it could be the last. Sure all I missed was us getting thrashed and Steven King kicking Jeff White's face off, but 2013 Adam is aghast at the behaviour of the 2005 model.

As an added bonus those of you watching on TV were lucky enough to not only enjoy the commentary of James Brayshaw but also harrowing picture-in-picture crosses to the Bulldogs players looking as if they were all about to kill themselves when the goal when in - except for Brad Johnson, who supports his claim to be the cheeriest man in footy by sitting there with a wry smile on his face as his side's season is totally stuffed.

72.
Round 16 1987 - Melbourne 18.9.117 d. Geelong 11.11.77

Melbourne's 1987 season was like being elected to the senate on 0.50% of the vote, there were so many times that we could have fallen just far enough behind to get eliminated but seemed to just do enough to stay alive until our fate was in our own hands.

With the VFL's season fixture having been decided by something on a particularly potent brand of weed this Round 16 match was actually played a week after the Round 17 game where St Kilda had dealt our finals chances another mortal blow with a 46 point victory. So as the Demons went to Waverley, where they were traditionally no good, they went back in time to play yet another match where a loss would see their hopes of playing finals dashed.

Geelong led by two goals early in the first quarter, but in a battle between two of the most inconsistent sides in the competition the Demons came out on top from there on. Robert Flower was the star of the day, with his hopes of one last tilt at the finals hanging on by a thread he booted four goals from 21 touches to be his side's best.

The win still left them two and a half games and percentage outside the five with six games to play. They would not lose another game until their return to Waverley for the infamous Preliminary Final against Hawthorn.

71.
Round 10 1974 - Melbourne 19.10.124 d. Fitzroy 13.15.93

As bad as we've been over the last couple of years at least we've never lost 19 straight. Yet. In that case imagine the jubilation of winning your first match in 11 months. Either that or you could just watch the post-match scenes after we lost to GWS this year and that should give you some idea of the modern equivalent.

The poor run had seen the demise of Ian Ridley as coach as well as numerous players, but under the tutelage of South Melbourne legend Bob Skilton the Demons had actually gotten worse. It took until a windy day at the MCG against a side two and a half wins but just two spots above them on the ladder for Melbourne's young players to finally break through for a victory.

Ross Brewer and Peter Williamson kicked five each. Williamson had kicked just two goals in 17 matches to that point, and would only add nine more for the season before being delisted after 27 games.

Strangely enough despite their abysmal recent record it was actually Melbourne's fourth straight win over the Lions.

70.
Round 20 1977 - Melbourne 27.13.175 d. St Kilda 15.14.104

People younger than me might struggle to come to terms with this concept, but there was actually a point where teams would struggle to the death to avoid 'winning' the wooden spoon. Even in the early years of the draft they would put dignity above draft picks, but in 1977 there really was no benefit to finishing last.

In Round 19 the Demons were locked in a three-way tussle with Fitzroy and St Kilda to avoid the ignominy of finishing last. Coach Bob Skilton was just trying (and ultimately failing) to avoid getting the sack after going within one point of getting his side into the five the previous year.

The fixture gave them consecutive games against the Lions and Saints which would give some clarity to the spoon race, and Melbourne's first task was to travel to the Junction Oval and play the Lions. Fitzroy were a game last but humiliated Skilton's side by 10 goals to draw level and drop the Saints to last.

After that humiliation, and St Kilda's fighting four goal loss to top of the table Collingwood on the same day, the visitors might rightly have started favourites in front of a poxy 12,000 'strong' crowd at the MCG but they were blown away from the first bounce.

Despite the loss to suspension of Henry Coles (or was that Neil Craig playing under an alias?) and the general loss in morale that can only come from going back to being a totally rubbish team after a brief flirtation with glory the Demons kicked seven goals in the first quarter - and by the end of the game had 11 individual goalkickers. It didn't seem to concern anybody that there had been 10 changes at the selection table and an 11th shortly before the game when Shane Grambeau (what a name) dropped out with flu.

Veteran Graham Osborne kicked a career high five goals in his 144th and third last game, while Greg Wells added another five of his own to go along with a 33 touch game (I think the people doing these possession counts started making it up in the 70's, that's the third time he's had 33 in this list alone).

What was more remarkable about their comfortable, high scoring win is that by quarter time Melbourne had lost two players to injury. Gary Baker had done his hamstring and Adrian Dullard dislocated his kneecap. Despite being five goals in front they were vulnerable to a comeback, but St Kilda never threatened. With debutant Michael Byrne dominant in the ruck with Baker off-field the Dees slammed on 10 goals in the last quarter to kick a huge score and move both a game and significant percentage away from last place with two games to play.

They ended up losing their last two and finishing in front of the Saints, who were rewarded not with picks but rightfully with scorn from the whole football community.

69.
Round 14 1965 - Melbourne 12.11.83 d. 11.15.81

The circumstances behind the sacking of Norm Smith are covered elsewhere. If you haven't read it I insist that you immediately go out and get the book The Red Fox, which is one of the great footy books.

Whatever the rights and wrongs were of the relationship between Smith and the club's committee it was hard to deny that he didn't know what he was doing, so when Smith was sensationally dismissed as senior coach while in charge of a team sitting at 9-3 and having just won a flag you could be forgiven for wondering if the committee were not actually all stupid.

Checker Hughes was dragged out of a lengthy retirement to coach the side for one match - at Coburg Oval of all places - but the 71-year-old must have been as happy as anyone to find out that Smith had been reinstated and would be back in his rightful place for the following Saturday's clash with Fitzroy.

The Melbourne fans showed where their loyalties were, giving Smith a rousing ovation as he entered the ground that was even louder than the one Brian Dixon got as he ran through the banner for his 200th game. Despite Fitzroy kicking four of the first six goals of the game Demons fans were just happy to have Smith back in charge, and were rewarded with a six goal second quarter that put their side 28 points in front.

From there Melbourne stopped dead. Injuries to Barry Bourke and Ray Groom didn't help, and Fitzroy stormed home to get within a kick in the last quarter. Thankfully for Smith and the Demons they missed two gettable shots late and Melbourne held on to win.

The match not only marked a triumphant comeback for Smith, but it was the beginning of the end for both his coaching career with the Dees - this time for good - and also for the glory era that he'd ushered in during the 50's and 60's. From the verge of the top four after this game the Dees would lose the last four and would go on to be rubbish for another 20 plus years. But it must have been good at the time.

2 comments:

  1. Demonblog's 100 MFC wins 1965-2013*

    FIXED.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Who are we, Essendon?

    It's not too much of a spoiler to suggest that 2013 isn't going to feature in this list.

    ReplyDelete