Friday 27 December 2013

Demonbracket 2014 - Preview

Friends, MFC sympathisers, opposition fans and competitors. The countdown to Demonbracket 2014 starts here. On Monday 27 January we'll welcome competitors from all over the world (well, 44 from Australia and one from New Zealand) to the third edition of the Battle For The Bracket.

To recap for those of you who are just joining us, Demonbracket asks you to make an arbitrary decision on a match-up between two or more listed MFC players based on whatever criteria you see fit. Actual footballing ability and performance can be used as the basis for judgement if you want, but so can their Playstation prowess, the colour of their hair, numerology, astrology, model of car driven, the fact that he slept with a close family member or whatever else you feel strongly about.

Voting will be conducted via Twitter, email, comments, forums and any other formats we come up with by the time the first draw is released on Monday 20 January. The first matches will be played a week later, then each weekday until we crown a new champion on Wednesday 12 February - just in time for the season to start.

Meanwhile, can your company provide a suitably jaunty trophy for the winner (as well as two to be retrospectively awarded to the previous winners)? If so then you could be the Demonbracket 2014 sponsor of Demonbracket 2014. Contact me with your proposal by 20 January. Best offer not involving a sex toy gets naming rights.

Honour Roll

In its first two years Demonbracket has become the premier award for MFC backmen. Can the Defender's Union broker a third straight victory, or will midfielders do what they've done to every other award in the AFL? And what of forwards and ruckmen? Your votes will decide their fate. The previous grand finals: (click the year for the full bracket results)

2012 - James Frawley d. Nathan Jones
2013 - Tom McDonald d. Mitch Clark

  • Vote on whatever criteria you see fit. We won't ask questions, and nor should anyone else
  • Voting will be conducted between 7am and 7pm AEDST unless otherwise noted
  • You must cast a valid vote for every match that day or none of your votes for that day will count
  • You must pick a winner in every match up. No half votes, no "I can't split them". Yes you can, and you will
  • Non-MFC fans are more than welcome to vote on as many days as you like as long as you follow all other rules
  • Players are more than welcome to use social media, real media or paid advertising to promote themselves. Outright bribery, however, is not permitted
  • In the event of a tie both players will advance to the next round
  • If a match features three or more players and two or more tie for the most votes they will advance with all other players eliminated
  • In the event of a Grand Final tie there will be a replay the next day
  • The decision of the Demonbracket Organising Committee (i.e me) is final
The draw

In a change from the 2012 and 2013 events, seedings are no longer based on who's in the leadership group (and not just because it hasn't been confirmed yet and might not be by the first round draw) and will instead consist of the defending champion and the top seven highest surviving finishers from the 2013 Best and Fairest.

1. Tom McDonald
2. Nathan Jones
3. Colin Garland
4. Dean Terlich
5. Matt Jones
6. Lynden Dunn
7. James Frawley
8. Jack Trengove

The eight seeds plus 12 players made up of the remainder of the 2013 leadership group and the most experienced players (MFC games only) go straight to the first round while everyone else battles to the death in the preliminary round.

The preliminary round draw will be held on Monday 20 January followed by the first round draw on Tuesday 21 January. If the 2014 leadership group is confirmed by 20 January the field will be adjusted accordingly.

Non-seeded players with a bye to Round 1 (G = games, L = leadership group)
1. Jack Watts (G)
2. Chris Dawes (L)
3. Shannon Byrnes (L)
4. Mitch Clark (L)
5. Jordie McKenzie (G/L)
6. Sam Blease (G)
7. Daniel Nicholson (G)
8. Jack Grimes (G/L)
9. Luke Tapscott (G)
10. Jeremy Howe (G)
11. Mark Jamar (G)
12. Rohan Bail (G)

Players entered in the Preliminary Round (11 singles matches and one triple threat - winners advance to the main draw)
1. Jesse Hogan
2. Christian Salem
3. Jimmy Toumpas
4. Jack Viney
5. Dom Tyson
6. Mitch Clisby
7. Dean Kent
8. Daniel Cross
9. James Strauss
10. Cameron Pedersen
11. Viv Michie
12. Bernie Vince
13. Jay Kennedy-Harris
14. Aidan Riley
15. Jayden Hunt
16. Michael Evans
17. Dominic Barry
18. Max Gawn
19. Neville Jetta
20. Jake Spencer
21. Jack Fitzpatrick
22. Alex Georgiou
23. James Harmes
24. Max King
25. Maia Westrupp

Preliminary Round

Monday 27 January (7am to 1pm)
[1] Daniel Cross vs Bernie Vince
[2] Max Gawn vs James Strauss
[3] Aiden Riley vs Alex Georgiou

Monday 27 January (1pm to 7pm)
[4] Michael Evans vs Jimmy Toumpas
[5] Jayden Hunt vs Dom Tyson
[6] Jay Kennedy-Harris vs Christian Salem

Tuesday 28 January (7am to 1pm)
[7] Jack Fitzpatrick vs James Harmes
[8] Viv Michie vs Maia Westrupp
[9] Dean Kent vs Neville Jetta

Tuesday 28 January (1pm to 7pm)
[10] Jesse Hogan vs Mitch Clisby
[11] Dominic Barry vs Jake Spencer
[12] Cameron Pedersen vs Jack Viney vs Max King

Round One

Wednesday 29 January
1. Tom McDonald vs ?
? vs ?
? vs ?
? vs 8. Jack Trengove

Thursday 30 January
5. Matt Jones vs ?
? vs ?
? vs ?
? vs 4. Dean Terlich

Friday 31 January
3. Colin Garland vs ?
? vs ?
? vs ?
? vs 6. Lynden Dunn

Monday 3 February
7. James Frawley vs ?
? vs ?
? vs ?

? vs 2. Nathan Jones

Round Two

Tuesday 4 February
? vs ?
? vs ?
? vs ?
? vs ?

Wednesday 5 February
? vs ?
? vs ?
? vs ?
? vs ?

Quarter Finals

Thursday 6 February
? vs ?
? vs ?

Friday 7 February
? vs ?
? vs ?

Semi Final

Monday 10 February
? vs ?

Tuesday 11 February
? vs ?


Wednesday 12 February
? vs ?

Thursday 26 December 2013

Demonblog's 100 greatest MFC wins 1965-2013 (Part 3)

I think everyone knows how this works now, and if you don't we have part 1 and part 2 available for you to get the hang of things before we move into the business end (well, over half way anyway) of the countdown

The key:

- 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

Round 7 1966 - Melbourne 14.10.94 d. Essendon 9.6.60

In a scenario which may seem familiar, Melbourne were no good in 1966. The only difference was that then it was still a surprise. After sliding plummeting out of the finals after a hot start in 1965 the Demons had opened the new season with six straight losses.

Miraculously they weren't last, thanks only to a Fitzroy side who had started the year in even worse form, but from the day they went down to eventual premiers St Kilda by 76 points in the opening clash of the year - in front of nearly 65,000 people - it had been all downhill. The closest they'd got was 27 points to Hawthorn in the second round. By Round 6 the Hawks hadn't won another match.

The defending premiers, on the other hand, had won five of six. It only left them fourth going in the match against the Demons, but it should have been an easy win for the visitors. In contrast to the big crowd for their first game 'only' 38,500 turned up, and at first there was no sign that an upset was brewing. Other than Barrie Vagg kicking both his team's goals Essendon were in front and on top at the first break.

It was Vagg who lifted Melbourne into a winning position, kicking another three in the second quarter and beating three opponents. The Demons took a three goal lead into half-time. The margin was extended by a point in the third quarter, but Essendon were still expected to run over the top of their younger and less credentialed opponents in the last term. Despite Vagg being held to his half-time tally of five goals the Demons held on, and extended their lead courtesy of three goals on debut from Ken Jungwirth. Their season might have been shot, but they could at least claim a confidence boosting win against the defending champions.

Melbourne would win just two more games for the season while Essendon made the second week of finals, but an extra win would have given the Bombers the double chance.

Round 3 1967 - Melbourne 10.9.69 d. St Kilda 9.13.67

When it comes to great days out at the footy Brian Dixon might have had one of Melbourne's all-time best on Saturday 29 April 1967. It wasn't so much his performance, he only kicked one goals and wasn't in his side's best, but because at the very same time as he was part of the side earning a much needed second win for the season against St Kilda, Dixon was in the process of being re-elected as the State Member of Parliament for... the seat of St Kilda.

After a morning of campaigning at polling booths Dixon left his campaign in the hands of others, and travelled to the St Kilda football club's new home at Moorabbin to take on a side who had only lost one match at the ground since they moved there to start their 1966 premiership season. Melbourne on the other hand had won just three games the previous season and were only spared the ignominy of the wooden spoon by Fitzroy only winning one.

St Kilda had opened their premiership defence in strong fashion, thrashing Footscray on the day they unveiled their first flag and had gone to Windy Hill and beaten Essendon in a thriller a week later. Melbourne had beaten North Melbourne in the opening round but were comfortably beaten by Geelong the previous Saturday. The Saints rightfully started favourite on their home deck.

After an old style fire and brimstone pre-match address from Norm Smith the match ebbed and flowed as each side had their use of the wind. By three quarter time Melbourne had opened up a lead of just under three goals, but with the use of wind the Saints looked home after Carl Ditterich kicked the first two goals of the final term almost immediately after the restart.

It was then that Melbourne dug in their heels and played an amazing 18 minutes of defensive football holding the margin under a goal. Ross Smith hit the post for the home team, and Ditterich missed another kickable shot. When Bernie Massey took a screamer in the defensive goal square to stop another attack Melbourne were home. So was Dixon, he was elected along the Liberal Party government of Henry Bolte.

Round 9 1975 - Melbourne 18.15.123 d. Fitzroy 17.10.112

The 1975 season would end up both encouraging and disappointing for the Demons, third last despite winning nine games, but their Round 9 clash against Fitzroy was one of the most memorable of the season.

Entering the match the two sides were in exactly the same position they would be by the end of the year, locked together on the same amount of wins but with the Roys holding a percentage advantage. In front of a disappointing crowd of just over 16,000 Melbourne looked like they were going to swallow up that percentage gap easily when they went seven goals clear in the second quarter.

Then Fitzroy came alive. After a reshuffle of their side where forwards went into the backline and vice-versa they kicked 13 goals to two. The Lions had a lead of five goals of their own in the last quarter before Melbourne found success with switching players - Stan Alves went onto the ball and Garry Baker to full forward. The home side booted a pair of consolation goals, and it didn't look nearly enough with a few minutes left before Melbourne added another three in time on to register what was - in the end - a comfortable win. Alves and Baker contributed to four of six goals in a row that won the game.

Both coaches were upset. Bob Skilton refused to comment on several contentious umpiring decisions and instead turned his fire on his own players, saying "It was disgusting to think we let them in the game from that position, but to come back from where we were, was as good as our play earlier was disgusting".  and Fitzroy's Kevin Rose's response to the loss was "Footballers! They burn your guts out!"

Round 9 2005 - Melbourne 15.20.110 d. Carlton 13.14.92

The Demons were chosen as the last opposition for Carlton in a VFL game at Princes Park, and with almost every ticket snapped by Blues fans they entered the ground to a hostile atmosphere.

With Melbourne two and a half wins at 32% in front of Carlton on the ladder, and holding a win of over 100 point against them the previous season, sentiment and hostility was almost all the Blues could hope for to give themselves a chance.

At three quarter time, with a wasteful Melbourne in front by 56 points after kicking 15 goals from 32 scoring shots, it looked like the Blues might be leaving their old ground on the back of a thumping but then Melbourne fell apart. When Carlton kicked their sixth goal in a row at the 20 minute mark the margin was just three goals and the Demons were wobbling, another goal might have spurred the Blues on to the greatest comeback in league history but Melbourne steadied to hold on for victory.

Round 7 1988 - Melbourne 15.21.111 d. Hawthorn 13.12.90

Facing the Hawks for the first time since the heartbreak of the 1987 Preliminary Final, John Northey was forced by injury to field his weakest side of the year. Hawthorn went into the game with almost double the amount of games experience in their players, and Jason Dunstall at full forward in red-hot form after 32 goals in his first six matches of the season.

Danny Hughes started up front as part of the makeshift team but was eventually required down back to try and quell the unstoppable Dunstall. It didn't work, and the Hawthorn spearhead was unstoppable with eight goals (and would go on to kick 132 for the season) but Melbourne had too many other winners around the ground. The Hawks only had four other goalkickers and despite starting the last quarter 10 points in front they were mown down by the fast finishing Demons.

David Williams was the hero, with four goals from a wing in the last term after being moved out of the forward line where he hadn't managed any until then. Fittingly it was Jim Stynes - villain of that 1987 debacle - who kicked the sealer.

Round 8 1998 - Melbourne 17.12.114 d. Collingwood 16.15.111

Coming off the 1997 wooden spoon, Melbourne had shocked everyone by winning five of their first six games to start the new season. They had been brought back to earth by Richmond a week earlier, and Collingwood were expected to strike another blow to their hopes of a surprise finals appearance.

With Brent Grgic playing his career best game, and top draft pick Travis Johnstone showing why the Demons had picked him first at the end of '97, the game ebbed and flowed through the first three quarters before the Demons booted four goals in a row to open the final term.

Just when it looked like Collingwood was sunk they charged back, and with the lead whittled back to a couple of points Anthony Rocca seemingly won the game for the Pies but his kick hit the top of the post. His brother Saverio then had a flying shot around his body which missed and the Demons held on to win thanks to Andrew Leoncelli winning the ball on the members' wing and holding it long enough run the clock down.

Round 15 1993 - Melbourne 22.9.141 d. Geelong 20.7.127

Both Melbourne and Geelong had been disappointments in 1993, but at least unlike the Cats we were expected to be no good. They had played in the previous year's Grand Final and were stuck in the middle of the ladder approaching the last few weeks of the season.

Considering the strength of the two teams a solid crowd turned out and they were treated to an exhibition by Garry Ablett. The spearhead kicked 11 goals straight but couldn't find enough support to get his side over the line. Melbourne's best was Glenn Lovett, who despite 36 touches and four goals failed to register a Brownlow medal vote for the afternoon.

Round 12 2004 - Melbourne 12.10.82 d. Collingwood 11.7.73

After losing the last three Queen's Birthday clashes by an average of ten goals it looked like another dirty day for the Demons when they trailed by five goals deep into the third quarter.

They might have had an excuse to shut up shop after travelling to Brisbane and Perth in the previous two weeks, and having overcome the Dockers in shockingly wet condition, but had led at quarter time and been wasteful with their chances. Collingwood, on the other hand, were ruthless in the third term with three straight.

The Demons were inspired by the return of Nathan Brown during the third quarter after he'd suffered a heavy bump from Collingwood skipper Nathan Buckley in the second quarter. The hit left him with tooth fragments implanted his cheek, but his return helped spark Melbourne. They dragged the margin back to 16 points at three quarter time and kicked seven of the last eight goals of the match. Captain David Neitz provided inspiration with a big bump on Scott Burns after moving himself to centre half-forward, and Queen's Birthday specialist Adem Yze moved from a back pocket to full forward to kick two crucial goals.

Round 14 2003 - Melbourne 14.13.97 d. Carlton 14.6.90

While both teams had suffered a poor 2003, with the Demons sitting 5-8 and Carlton 4-9, at least Carlton were on the improve from their three win 2002 while Melbourne had fallen from the heights of a preliminary final.

By the time they reached Round 14 they were two and a half and three wins respectively outside the eight and not much more than a mathematical chance of qualifying due to their poor percentages.

Part of the Demons problem in 2003 was its inability to hold tall forwards, and when Corey McKernan had four in the first quarter it looked like he was set for another big day out. Seven total for Carlton gave them a comfortable lead, and while McKernan failed to get another touch for the rest of the day his side had extended their lead to 33 points 18 minutes into the third term.

The Demons got a late goal courtesy of Travis Johnstone being handed another kick after missing, but they were still 26 points behind. It was then that Neale Daniher took Cameron Bruce and Adem Yze from the defensive roles they had been playing all day and threw them into the centre where they ran the Blues off their legs. Carlton, on the other hand, were out of legs and when Melbourne hit the lead they held on to win for the last time that year.

Round 20 1992 - Melbourne 16.13.109 d. Collingwood 14.16.100

The Demons of 1992 were a disappointment, and Allen Jakovich had failed to match the heights of the second half of his rookie season, so when the 5th last Melbourne travelled to Victoria Park to take on the top of the table Magpies they were expected to be thrashed.

On a weekend where three other games were decided by more than 100 points they were the surprise packet of the day, with Jakovich kicking an equal season high of seven goals, but also giving away four free kicks and being on the end of an unspecified complaint from a female patron of Victoria Park. Collingwood fans were also seen abusing him as he was taken from the ground during the first quarter.

The home side had more of the scoring opportunities in the first quarter, but kicked 2.8 against five straight to go in sixteen points behind. They cut the gap to one point at half time and took a 13 point lead into the last quarter, but Melbourne overhauled them to earn a surprise win. Styles, Schwarz and Jakovich took 32 marks between them.

Round 9 2010 - Melbourne 17.9.111 d. Port Adelaide 16.14.110

By the time of Melbourne's first Darwin home game Dean Bailey's side were seemingly coming of age. They had won three games in a row from Round 3 to Round 5, and despite some sort of normal service resuming in the previous three weeks they were a much changed side compared to the one that had won a second consecutive wooden spoon the season before.

Selling a home game interstate made perfect financial sense for the struggling club, but on a footballing level it seemed risky considering they'd lost 13 straight games outside Victoria and hadn't scored a victory outside the eastern seaboard since 2004.

Port were playing above expectations in 2010, and Melbourne had been disappointing losers to West Coast at the MCG a week earlier so the Power started deserved favourites. Despite this Melbourne started comfortably, opening up a lead in the first quarter before Port struck back. In the steamy Darwin conditions, with players resting in a cool-room while off the field, the 'home' side withstood another Port comeback to be in front at half time.

By now the result of the delicately balanced match rested mainly on the question of which side would wilt in the 27 degree temperature and 88% humidity. The Demons looked more likely considering they had only come to Darwin with one ruckman, but in the third quarter they were unbeatable - and inspired by five goals from the recalled Brad Miller they started the last quarter 33 points in front.

Spending their three quarter time break in a cool room while Port stayed out on the ground might have been the difference they needed to ensure they ran out the game, but Port started well with the first two goals of the last term and despite Brad Green kicking a steadier Melbourne were out on their feet. With Jamar totally spent the Demons were forced to use the undersized Colin Sylvia as the ruckman in centre-bounces and Port took full advantage.

Port hit the lead before Jamie Bennell kicked his fourth to put Melbourne back in front but Port weren't finished, taking the lead again with six minutes to play and extended the lead to an even goal with 4.22 on the clock. The Demons built from the back, with Colin Garland kicking short to Neville Jetta. Jetta's long kick bounced off a pack on the wing and into the hands of first Jamie Bennell, then Colin Sylvia, then Tom Scully whose floating kick left Brad Green stranded in a one-on-one contest at centre half-forward. Fortunately for Green the ball bounced to his advantage, and after initially fumbling it he slotted a goal on the run from 30m out to tie the scores just 30 seconds after Port's last score.

Melbourne had first chance out of the middle, but their attack came to nothing and Port were next to botch their chance of kicking any score and win the game. With players out on their feet both sides had chances to go forward again, but eventually it was the Demons who went forward. A set shot from just outside 50 by the exhausted Colin Sylvia fell way short, and a snap from Jamie Bennell landed in the arms of Mark Jamar but the umpire called play-on as the ball had been touched. With the ruckman barely able to get to his feet for the contest, Jack Trengove leapt over the top of punched the ball through for a point with 1.04 left.

When Alipate Carlisle stepped over the line kicking in to force another ball-up it looked too good to be true, and when Brad Miller carefully knocked the ball wide of the behind post for a ball-up he'd taken another six seconds off the clock deep in attack. But Port were given another chance, Cale Morton caught holding the ball just inside 50. With 30 seconds left the Power kicked long, but Melbourne found the boundary line. Port went in front again with two seconds on the clock, but a spoil by Colin Garland defused the attack and the Demons had won a thriller.

Round 22 1976 - Melbourne 18.20.128 d. Collingwood 17.11.123

Going into the last round of the season the two sides couldn't have been in different places. Melbourne had stormed home late in the year to the point where if they beat the Pies and Footscray lost to minor premiers Carlton they would be in the finals for the first time since 1964. On the other hand Collingwood were in a neck-and-neck race with Fitzroy to avoid finishing last.

With the Lions beating 10th placed Essendon at the Junction Oval the Pies would be consigned to the first wooden spoon in their history no matter what the result was, but on such a historic day they somehow managed to come out as the less disappointed team. With the great rivalry of the teams in the 50's and 60's still fresh in mind what should have been considered a great victory which consigned their greatest rivals to the worst moment in their history instead turned into Melbourne's most bittersweet victory in history.

Collingwood's reserves had started the day on a rare high for their club, winning by 165 points, and their seniors didn't go down fighting either. Laurie Fowler was taken out with a stray elbow in the first minute, and in a match punctuated by brawls Ray Shaw hit Greg Wells so hard that he broke his wrist.

Halfway through the second term it looked like Collingwood's brutal tactics had rattled the Demons. They were 25 points in front, and despite Fitzroy comfortably holding Essendon at bay across town the Pies could at least play spoilers for Melbourne's finals hopes. Despite reducing the margin to nine points at half-time Melbourne were still in danger of being tipped out of the five due to Footscray's 11 point lead over Carlton.

If the Bulldogs hadn't fallen over the line against Fitzroy by a point a week earlier - with a goal after the siren in a match that only had seven in total - it would have been academic, and a Dees win would have been enough unless Footscray could pick up 3% against the league's best side.

Melbourne did their bit, led by a dominant 15 minute spell by ruckman Craig McKellar they booted 8.4 to 1.1 to set up a match winning lead at three-quarter time. It still looked like it was going to be in vain, as Footscray led Carlton by three goals at the last change. The Blues had won 10 in a row and could have lost the minor premiership if Hawthorn had won in Geelong on the same but they were playing like anything but premiership favourites.

With more Melbourne fans than usual amongst the 28,000 in Victoria Park more attention was paid to the goings on in Parkville than what was happening in the game in front of them. The Blues fought back from three goals down to tie the game, but they ran out of time. As word filtered through about what had happened at Princes Park, Collingwood fans ignored the despicable state of their own side and took to heckling coach Bob Skilton instead. A section of the crowd even broke into a chorus of the Carlton theme song.

Skilton held back tears in the dressing room, but some of his players showed less composure and wept openly or threw their gear on the floor in full sight of journalists and other onlookers. The next year Melbourne won five games and Skilton was sacked. They wouldn't win more than nine games in a season again until 1987.

Semi Final 1988 - Melbourne 13.17.95 d. Collingwood 12.10.82

After struggling just to make the finals, then falling over the line against the Eagles in the elimination final (more on that soon...) the Demons faced their old enemy in a final for the first time since the 1964 Grand Final.

The match was held up for four minutes thanks to a melee in which Steven Stretch was knocked out - he returned to the action but only managed four touches for the whole day. When play did start the Demons skipped away to an early lead and were 23 points in front at the long break.

Collingwood got within a goal in the third and threatened throughout the second half but they could never get their nose in front. A freak Stephen Newport goal in the last quarter, when a speculative shot bounced through on a right angle sealed victory and two late goals for the Pies were nothing but a consolation. Collingwood were eliminated, and were left to lament controversial umpiring decisions.

Victory put the Demons into another preliminary final, a year after their heartbreaking loss to Hawthorn.

Round 1 1994 - Melbourne 26.18.174 d. Geelong 16.13.109

Two disappointing seasons in a row left the Demons looking back on their five finals series in a row between 1987 and 1991 as a golden era. They had finished well clear of the bottom of the ladder in '93 - and only missed the finals by two games with a huge percentage - but were still expected to be cannon fodder in 1994.

Geelong had also missed the finals the previous year, finishing level with the sixth placed Eagles but being tipped out due to an inferior percentage, and they were expected to clean Melbourne up without too many problems. After all the Demons had even lost to the Brisbane Bears in the first round of the Fosters Cup.

The match was not only the start of a new year, but a battle of spearheads. Allen Jakovich had only played nine games in 1993 for 39 goals while Gary Ablett had kicked a massive 124.60 from 17 matches. On this day at least Jakovich had the last laugh, kicking 8.8 and high fiving crowd members while Sean Wight restricted Ablett to 2.2.

The big score was assisted by five goals to Garry Lyon, four to Andy Lovell and three to MFC debutant Jeff Hilton. It remains Melbourne's largest ever score against Geelong.

Round 4 1991 - Melbourne 23.17.155 d. Carlton 17.8.110

In a bizarre day at league headquarters Mil Hanna kicked eight goals for the Blues and Jon Dorotich six but they were still comfortably on the losing side.

Victory had looked safe for the Blues twice during the afternoon, once when they were 34 points up at quarter time and then again when they turned for home 14 points in front - but they were blown away in a final quarter avalanche.

Earl Spalding, who would join the Blues at the end of the season, was the driving force behind a 11.7 final quarter which saw Melbourne storm to victory. The win, and then record last quarter score, was made even more special by injuries to Garry Lyon and Steve O'Dwyer which had forced them out of the game in the first term. Simon Eishold had been forced to play on through a broken thumb and Steven Stretch a broken nose.

John Northey explained his side's habit of winning from losing positions and losing from winning positions by saying "If you're a psychologist you can work it out for me, but I don't know".
1988 Elimination Final - Melbourne 11.7.73 d. West Coast 10.11.71

In order to prove that 1987 hadn't been a mere fluke (and more on that season later) the Demons avoided reverting to total gash again the next year - and eventually made the Grand Final - but it wasn't without some struggles.

The Demons had looked solid midway through the season before going into a slump which almost cost them their place in the five. Only a Round 22 win over Carlton had kept them above Essendon - who were 6% better off - and gave them the chance to play against the Eagles in their first ever final.

West Coast hadn't been all that much more impressive during the year, and not only was it their first final but their first ever day game at Waverley. Fortunately for the visitors the conditions made it like a night game, with rain throughout.

Before the match Northey had used Perth press clippings featuring Eagles coach John Todd labelling his opponents as "ordinary", "not very skilful" and had "made the finals by default" as a motivational tool but it didn't appear to have worked at first. If it wasn't for Danny Hughes and Alan Johnson in defence Melbourne might have been swamped in the first quarter.

The Eagles led by 22 points at half time, and Sean Wight was thrown forward after a torrid time down back in the first half. He helped spark the revival with two third quarter goals, and Steven Stretch switched with Rod Grinter and managed to quieten down the dominant Karl Langdon as Melbourne moved steadily closer.

In the last quarter Garry Lyon kicked a goal to put his side in front, but the Eagles might still have won the game if Murray Wrensted hadn't missed a goal on the run which bounced the wrong way in the square.

After the game Northey referred to Todd's comments in the press by saying ""For ordinary players they did a magnificent job". The Demons went on to make the Grand Final and put in a performance which has its place in another list at another time.

Round 3 1981 - Melbourne 18.12.120 d. Footscray 18.11.119
In terms of wins and losses the 1981 season would go down as Melbourne's third worst in VFL/AFL history, but it could have been a whole lot worse without a bit of luck at the Western Oval. In the first two weeks under Ron Barassi they'd followed an encouraging performance against one of the league's top sides with a debacle of a loss against the reigning wooden spooners so nobody knew what to expect by the time they got to Round 3.

With regular Bulldogs coach Royce Hart in hospital the Dogs were in the hands of assistant Frank Goode, and he was forced to field a side weakened by a serious early season injuries. With the aid of a traditionally strong Western Oval breeze the unmanned home side took a three goal lead at the first break, but when they had their chance the Demons kicked eight to take a narrow lead.

Inexplicably the Dogs allowed Melbourne four goals into the wind in the third term, which despite kicking eight of their own only left them four goals in front and expecting an avalanche. It never came, and the Demons were forced to chip away at the margin through the quarter but also let the Dogs kick three goals.

Mark Jackson had kicked eight goals in just his third game but it was an old hand who did the damage when it counted. Approaching the 30 minute mark of the last quarter the side with an average age of 22 were still in front, then a Shane Zantuck roost to the goal square allowed Robbie Flower to took a big mark and convert to give the Demons victory.

Melbourne would not win another game for 358 days.

Elimination Final 1990 - Melbourne 10.13.73 d. Hawthorn 8.16.64

The two sides had played a week earlier, and Melbourne had opened up a 39 point lead before Hawthorn rallied to only lose by two goals. The Hawks had the momentum, but Melbourne had Steven Stretch and Steve O'Dwyer returning to the side after a month out with injury.

The two teams engaged in a tight defensive battle, with the first goal taking 14 minutes and both teams spurning chances in front of goal. Melbourne would take more of their chances in the second half, kicking 7.7 to Hawthorn's 4.9 and they hit the front for the first time 18 minutes into the third quarter when an errant Chris Langford kicked landed in the arms of Ricky Jackson and he goaled. Two minutes later Darren Bennett got another from a free kick and Melbourne were four goals in front going into the last quarter.

With Tony Campbell and Peter Rohde holding Jason Dunstall and Dermott Brereton to two goals each for the daily Hawthorn did make a last quarter charge but couldn't get enough goals on the board to get their nose in front.


Round 10 1997 -Melbourne 14.8.92 d. Richmond 9.13.67

After a shock Round 1 win over the defending premiers, Melbourne had lost their next eight games and Neale Balme was dismissed after they only managed three goals for the night against Port Adelaide at Football Park.

Richmond were not a great deal better off, but having won three more games in the first nine weeks of the season they were expected to clean up the newly Greg Hutchison powered Demons without much trouble. Melbourne had other ideas though, and with skipper Garry Lyon returning to the side they ran away with the game in the last quarter.

The Tigers had been fading away in games all season and it happened again, giving Hutchison and the Demons a much needed boost. The Demons would win just two more games for the year and Richmond would finish with a total of 10 victories.

Round 15 1991 - Melbourne 26.21.177 d. Sydney 14.10.94

After five losses in a row Melbourne's position as top six contenders was starting to look vulnerable, and now that they were two games outside the finals they couldn't afford to lose at the SCG and stay in contention. John Northey's side responded with their highest ever score against South Melbourne/Sydney and their biggest win to date at the SCG.

It was the afternoon where the Allen Jakovich show began in earnest. He went into the match with four career goals, three of which had come the week before, and booted 8.8. In 10 more games for the year he got another 59. His haul equalled the best ever by a Demon against the Swans, and Darren Bennett had his last big day out with the Demons as he added seven.

Despite the loss of Glenn Lovett with a broken wrist early on and Garry Lyon with hamstring trouble in the second quarter Melbourne were unstoppable. Seven consolation goals for the Swans in the final quarter were hardly impressive considering they allowed Melbourne 10.3 in a final term almost completely devoid of defensive play.

Round 14 2008 - Melbourne 14.9.93 d. Brisbane Lions 13.14.92

Melbourne's disastrous 2008 campaign saw them stuck on one win from 13 games going into their match against the Lions, who were two games inside the eight with a percentage 44 points higher than their opponents.

The Demons opened up a three point lead at quarter time and held it through the next breaks, but they fell apart in the final term and allowed Brisbane to open up what looked like a match winning 11 point lead with just over two minutes left. First Cameron Bruce kicked a goal then Brad Miller marked strongly and goaled from straight in front to give his side the narrowest of leads.

Brisbane could still have stolen the win, the ball spent the last 30 seconds camped in their forward line through a succession of stoppages. Eventually rookie forward Austin Wonaeamirri extracted the footy and took off on a run down the members side wing with no players in front of him and ran down the clock much to the delight of his father who was visiting from the Tiwi Islands and watching the game in the crowd with President Jim Stynes.

Round 9 1977 - Melbourne 20.12.132 d. St Kilda 18.19.127

Having narrowly missed the top five in 1976 despite doing all the right things in the last few weeks of the year, hopes were high that the Demons could finally make their way back into the finals in 1977. As the weeks went on it became clear that they were not only going to make the five but that they were back to trying to avoid the wooden spoon.

Seven losses in a row to open the year had finally ended a week earlier with a big win over Fitzroy. The win had taken some pressure of Bob Skilton, who had received the dreaded "support of the board" before the Lions game as they denied they were lining up replacements, but in a game marred by heavy winds his side were forced to launch their greatest ever comeback from 3/4 time to register a second straight victory.

St Kilda had first use of the breeze and kicked nine goals from 14 scoring shots, but Melbourne struck back with eight of their own at half time. It still wasn't enough and they trailed by three goals at the long break. With the breeze not having died down the Saints were held to 4.7 in the third but still turned for home 35 points in front.

The flavour of the day was that the side with the wind would dominate, but when the Saints kicked the first two goals of the quarter to open up a 47 point lead the points were all but safe. Until Melbourne launched one of its most frenzied attacks in league history. Their sixth goal in a row within 17 minutes cut the margin to two points, and a behind drew them to just one point behind.

St Kilda had already drawn two games in the first two months of the 1977 season, and when Colin Graham marked 60m out with little time left and the strong breeze cutting across the ground it looked as if they could be in for the third but somehow Graham's kick floated through and the Demons held on to win.

Round 4 2006 - Melbourne 15.7.97 d. Sydney 13.14.92

In 2005 the Demons had battled a horrific end of year slump where they lost seven in a row to win three thrilled in the last three weeks of the year, but in the finals their true colours were shown when Geelong embarrassed them with an easy victory.

Some had tipped the Demons to drop down the ladder in 2006, and three weeks in Melbourne looked as if they were going to make all the negative predictions come true. They had lost to eventual wooden spooner Carlton (and would do so again), been thrashed by Footscray then beaten in a thriller by Adelaide. They might have had a draw against the Crows if not for a controversial goal umpiring decision, but it wouldn't have put them in much better a position going to Sydney to face the Swans.

Sydney too had struggled through the early weeks of the season. The defending premiers had lost their first two matches and only narrowly overcome the Blues the previous Saturday, so the two sides went into the game desperately needing victory to get their seasons started.

Success was more crucial for the winless Demons, whose premier odds had blown out to $61 during the week. One punter was encouraged to have $1000 on them at this price, but without a result at the SCG his money might have been blown in the same week.

With Brad Miller keeping Barry Hall relatively in Sydney's forward 50 the Demons led narrowly going into the last quarter, and were two goals in front with 10 minutes to play, but Sydney chipped away at their lead. With five minutes to go Jared Rivers was caught holding the ball, and when his throw back to the Sydney went narrowly over his head the umpire paid a controversial 50m penalty to gift Sydney the goal which levelled the scores.

The two sides then played out four scoreless minutes with the scores locked at 91 apiece. Both teams had their chances before a Cameron Bruce goal with 40 seconds left gave the Demons the lead. Sydney went forward from the centre bounce but Nick Malceski missed a shot on the run from 40m which would have tied the scores up again with 23 seconds left. Melbourne managed to hold on for the last few seconds and restart their season.

Elimination Final 1991 - Melbourne 17.11.113 d. Essendon 11.9.75

While Melbourne had kicked several high scores during the year, and the second half of the season had been given over almost entirely to Allen Jakovich's rampant goalkicking, it was easy to miss the fact that the Demons had wobbled their way into the top six only thanks to two wins in the last two weeks and a Collingwood defeat at Kardinia Park.

It was no surprise then that a paltry finals crowd turned out at Waverley Park to see the match, and they weren't rewarded with a classic quality game, but what they got instead was a great comeback and a great individual finals performance.

Even without Paul Salmon, lost before the match due to injury, Essendon did it easily in the first term and their 20 point margin should have been more were it not for abysmal goalkicking. Midway through the second they were 35 in front and cruising to victory. Darren Cuthbertson, who had spent three weeks as the flavour of the month earlier in the year, committed an error that was symptomatic of his side's afternoon to that point. Send back into defence after providing nothing up front he handballed directly to Tim Watson in the goalsquare and cost his side a major.

With the use of a strong wind in the third quarter Essendon should have punished the Demons and run away with the match, but a drastic rearguard action saw Melbourne boot six goals to two into the breeze and hit the lead late in the term through Andy Lovell. Jakovich kicked seven goals in the second half alone, and was one of the stars as the winners used the wind perfectly in the last quarter to cost home, stay alive for the season and heap pressure on Bombers' coach Kevin Sheedy.