AFL High Five series: Melbourne's best wins since 1970

Notwithstanding the plights of St Kilda, the Bulldogs, Richmond and Fremantle, it's hard to argue any group of supporters has been tormented quite like Melbourne's diehards. But for all the pain of the last five and a bit decades - and there has been plenty - there have been some wins to savour too. Here are five of the Demons' best since 1970.

The red and blue have enjoyed some famous victories, such as this one in 2005 against Geelong.
The red and blue have enjoyed some famous victories, such as this one in 2005 against Geelong. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

1. Footscray v Melbourne, Round 22, 1987, Western Oval

The 'curse of Norm Smith' had presided over the Demons for 23 years, the club having not made the finals since 1964. But despite falling to 6-10, Melbourne had raced back into September contention on the back of five straight wins. They headed to Footscray on the final Saturday of the season needing to beat the Bulldogs, and hope Hawthorn could topple Geelong at Kardinia Park. Four goals down early in the third term, John Northey's side swooped to take the lead, and prevail by 15 points. The red and blue faithful then had to nervously wait through the gripping final minutes in Geelong, where Jason Dunstall's last-quarter barrage was enough to see Melbourne through. A broken leg to youngster Gary Lyon - the footage of which would later be repeated ad nauseum on Channel Nine's The Footy Show - was the only downer on a famous day for the Demons. Riding a wave of emotion in Robbie Flower's last season, the Dees surged through the first two weeks of the finals and had one foot in the grand final, only to be denied by the Hawks, Jim Stynes and Gary Buckenara on preliminary final day at VFL Park.

Robert Flower, 1987
Robbie Flower

Robbie Flower in 1987.

2. Geelong v Melbourne, Round 20, 2005, Skilled Stadium


The Demons started 2005 in sensational fashion, winning their first three games of the year, and maintaining form sufficiently well that their clash against West Coast in round 13 was a battle of the competition's top two sides. But that loss to the Eagles precipitated a dramatic drop-off, the first of seven defeats in a row. Neale Daniher's men ventured down the Geelong highway in 11th place on the ladder, their hopes all but written off by most pundits. Twenty-seven points in arrears at half-time, it looked like another loss for Melbourne at a venue where they had last tasted victory in 1988. But charged by seven goals from Russell Robertson, the Demons rose from the ground, with Travis Johnstone wreaking havoc in the midfield. Leading by two points as the siren sounded, the Dees still had to withstand a long-range kick from Cat Matthew Egan. His shot faded to the left, meaning Melbourne hung on for the win by the narrowest of margins. Another stirring victory followed seven days later against the Bulldogs, before a final-round win over Essendon secured the Demons a spot in the eight. After all that, they were swiftly cast aside by Geelong in the elimination final.

2005 AFL Round 20.Geelong v Melbourne.Skilled Stadium.  Melbourne s Russell Robertson celebrates one of his goals.  Fairfax.Picture SEBASTIAN COSTANZO.The Age.  13th August.2005.

Russell Robertson was the hero in Geelong. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

3. Melbourne v Essendon, Round 1, 2005, MCG

The 2005 campaign had started with highly emotional scenes on a March Saturday night. Having faced off in a cliffhanger of an elimination final less than seven months earlier, the Demons and Bombers were united prior to the game as both sides celebrated the life of Dees defender Troy Broadbridge, who was among the tens of thousands tragically killed in the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004. After walking out side by side, and pausing for a minute's silence prior to the game, normal service resumed for the combatants. On this evening it was Melbourne - led by career-best football from Cameron Bruce - who reversed the result of the previous season's final, winning by 46 points. Broadbridge's widow Trisha was in the circle as the Demons belted out It's a Grand Old Flag in the rooms after the match.

AFL football at MCG. Round 1 Melbourne Vs Essendon.  Trisha Broadbridge tossed the coin and David Neitz and James Hird choose their directions  FAIRFAX Picture by JOHN FRENCH The Age 26th March 2005.  jaf050326.001.004 SPECIAL MELBVESS

Trisha Broadbridge tosses the coin and David Neitz and James Hird watch on. Photo: John French 

4. Melbourne v Brisbane Lions, Round 14, 2002, Gabba

While this was technically a 'home' game for the Demons - one of a series of games they sold to Queensland in the 2000s - it was for all intents and purposes about as difficult an away assignment as existed. The reigning premiers had won 18 straight games at the Gabba, and that wasn't expected to change against the middling Dees. But with captain and soon-to-be Coleman medallist David Neitz starring with seven majors, Melbourne overturned a 37-point quarter-time deficit (which was still more than five goals at half-time) to kick clear and win by 21 points. As if to prove how remarkable the win had been, the Lions went on to win their next 10 matches at the venue, not to mention two more premierships.

BRISBANE - JULY 7:  Melbourne players celebrate winning against Brisbane during the AFL round 14 match played between the Brisbane Lions and the Melbourne Demons at the Gabba in Brisbane, Australia on July 7, 2002.  (Photo by Darren England/Getty Images).

Shane Woewoedin, Brad Green, Darren Jolly and Clint Bizzell celenbrate. Photo: Getty Images

5. Melbourne v Fremantle, Round 7, 2008, MCG

Fifty points behind at half-time, winless Melbourne looked on their way to another defeat in Dean Bailey's first season at the helm, and as such were booed off the MCG by portions of the crowd. But with fifth-gamer Austin Wonaeamirri (four goals for the afternoon) sparking them to life, the Demons summoned the energy to get back within 32 points at three-quarter-time. A nine-goal-to-two final term led the Dees to a six-point victory, with Brock McLean's 28 disposals earning him the three Brownlow votes. The loss heaped enormous pressure on Fremantle coach Mark Harvey. Uplifting though it might have been, the win did little for Melbourne in the long run, with the club still finishing last.

Melbourne v Fremantle at The MCG AFL ROUND 7  Auston Wonaeamirri celebrates a last quarter goal   Picture by Pat Scala  Sunday the 4th of May 2008  AGE NEWS MCG AFL ROUND 7 MELBOURNE DEMONS V FREMANTLE DOCKERS

Austin Wonaeamirri enjoys a last quarter goal. Photo: Pat Scala