JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.



AFL must save Demons

Not happy: Melbourne players feel the wrath of supporters after Saturday's match.

Not happy: Melbourne players feel the wrath of supporters after Saturday's match. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

First Melbourne rebuilt. Lately, coach Mark Neeld has talked about rebuilding the rebuild. After their pathetic start to 2013, what do the Demons do now, rebuild the rebuilding of a rebuild?

That's the sort of farce an entire football club threatens to become should the level of ineptitude Melbourne has exhibited on and off the field these past few years be allowed to continue much longer.

''Of course we are [concerned],'' AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou conceded last week. ''We don't want the situation where a club has a significant loss and people are outraged and booing.''

That was in reaction to the round one smashing at the hands of Port Adelaide, a performance that up against Saturday night's 148-point disgrace against Essendon looked relatively competitive by comparison.

What would Demetriou say now? Whatever, it's what he does that's far more important.

And the time may well have come for the AFL to go a step further than subsidies and draft picks, and take over the running of one of the competition's foundation clubs, as it has been prepared to do with the newer franchises beyond the state border.

The league showed two decades ago it was prepared to move its own people into Sydney to keep the Swans viable. It didn't mess around and drafted David Matthews into head office at Greater Western Sydney. And it shouldn't mess around any longer waiting for the club bearing this city's name to fix itself. Because the Demons themselves can't, and won't.

This is about far more than Neeld's competence as a coach, and more than Melbourne's financial status. The club has an inherently weak culture that any number of new regimes has failed to strengthen. Direct intervention from head office may be Melbourne's last hope.

Next year will be the 50th anniversary of the Demons' last premiership. The seeds of destruction were sown less than 12 months later, when the legendary Norm Smith was sacked as coach. The disease has festered ever since, occasionally going into remission, but always there, ready to turn the slightest hint of trouble into chaos.

Even the couple of high points in that half-century have come against the odds. When Melbourne made the 1988 grand final, it did so as a club based at a dilapidated training venue, its football department split from the administration. In 2000, Neale Daniher took the club to another grand final despite the meddling and interference from its president Joe Gutnick.

Gutnick had stepped in to bail out the club and just four years earlier, it had actually voted in favour of merging itself out of independent existence, a fact those associated with other battling clubs such as the Western Bulldogs and the departed Fitzroy, who fought tooth and nail to stay alive under their own steam, have never forgotten.

Many would equate the recent tanking controversy as the merger's on-field equivalent. The results have spoken for themselves, most obviously in the departure of the player the whole costly strategy set out to acquire (Tom Scully), but just as significantly in the pervasive and damaging message sent through a whole club.

A stream of senior players have been jettisoned or have left, the club having overestimated the strength of what remained. And their development, and that of a steady stream of highly rated juniors, has been stunted and compromised, the consequences seen again at the hands of the Bombers.

The ''new brooms'' at Melbourne come and go, but never manage to clean everything or in some cases even anything up. The sickness always seems to prevail.

Chairman Don McLardy said on Sunday the Neeld coaching team had been given ''carte blanche to change the culture of the Melbourne Football Club''.

But at Melbourne, that is far too great a task for a novice coach feeling his way. Even Norm Smith would be struggling with this version of his once great club.

Culture change is also primarily a job for an administration. And this one is too embattled, too fatigued and too scarred by its various travails to any longer have the resources, clout or credibility to right this sinking ship.

AFL headquarters does though. The league could deploy its best to work at Melbourne, help establish the first solid foundations it would have had for 50 years, find and develop a genuine, not half-baked and piecemeal, spiritual and physical home, assume marketing and promotional responsibilities and make the club something fans of future generations actually want to follow for reasons other than diminishing family ties.

That's a more essential task than debating Neeld's future or Jack Watts' best position. Because unless it's addressed pronto, those names will simply be replaced by two more who try and fail to turn around a club with a sick core.

61 comments

  • Merge them with North Melbourne and become the Melbourne Kangaroos. They will then have a combined membership of about 30,000 and the old North supporters can attend the games when snow season starts.

    Commenter
    go bombers
    Date and time
    April 08, 2013, 7:15AM
    • A great idea! I've been saying this for ages and I'm a Kangaroos supporter.

      Commenter
      Sean
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      April 08, 2013, 7:55AM
    • Why merge with a club the AFL seems determined to get rid of.
      Eddie might let our Dees merge with Collingwood instead to become the Melbourne Pies.

      Commenter
      Chas of Donvale
      Date and time
      April 08, 2013, 8:13AM
    • Who would want to merge with Melbourne? Hawthorn showed 17 years ago that it would be poison to do that.

      Commenter
      andyl12
      Date and time
      April 08, 2013, 8:27AM
    • If Melbourne DID merge with North it would create a power house club that would dominate for about three years similar to when Fitzroy and Brisbane merged years back.

      Commenter
      Paul
      Date and time
      April 08, 2013, 8:43AM
    • Have you even been to Arden street? A fantastic club set up, a great culture. North are doing very well. Leave them alone, they have a good shot at a flag in the next 3 - 4 years. Go Magpies.

      Commenter
      Nicholas
      Location
      Nhulunbuy
      Date and time
      April 08, 2013, 8:47AM
    • Chris,Collingwood fans want nothing to do with snobby Melbourne,I'm sure Eddie feels the same.

      Commenter
      g
      Date and time
      April 08, 2013, 8:53AM
    • Name sounds good!

      Commenter
      bornagirl
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      April 08, 2013, 8:54AM
    • So are we going to merge the poorest clubs or the least successful? The logical options are the underachievers over the past forty years Footscray, St. Kilda and Collingwood. North Melbourne might not be wealthy but they've won four Premierships in that time.

      Commenter
      fred
      Date and time
      April 08, 2013, 9:07AM
    • North are a sustainable club who are slowly working down their levels of debt. They have 30k+ members on their own and whilst their attendances are not great, they often get relegated to B grade time slots. More importantly their list and culture yield competitive on field results. Lets not tar them with the same brush as Melbourne who are a basket case.

      Commenter
      Mick (Tigers Fan)
      Location
      Mornington
      Date and time
      April 08, 2013, 9:12AM

More comments

Comments are now closed

Related Coverage

AFL 2015

Round 1
Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
CAR 78 vs RIC 105 19:20MCG
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
MEL 115 vs GCF 89 13:40MCG
SYD 72 vs ESS 60 16:35ANZ
BRI 74 vs COL 86 19:20G
WBU 97 vs WCE 87 19:20ES
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 78 vs GWS 87 13:10ES
ADE 140 vs NTH 63 15:20Adelaide Oval
FRE 75 vs PTA 68 18:40Domain Stadium
Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW 123 vs GEE 61 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
WCE 131 vs CAR 62 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 66 vs WBU 85 13:45MCG
GWS 101 vs MEL 56 14:10SO
COL 63 vs ADE 90 16:35ES
GCF 76 vs STK 104 19:20MS
PTA 44 vs SYD 92 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
GEE 60 vs FRE 104 13:10SS
ESS 78 vs HAW 76 15:20MCG
NTH 133 vs BRI 51 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
COL 140 vs STK 66 19:50MCG
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
CAR 84 vs ESS 105 13:45MCG
ADE 80 vs MEL 55 14:10Adelaide Oval
SYD 111 vs GWS 90 16:35SCG
NTH 105 vs PTA 113 19:20ES
BRI 58 vs RIC 137 19:20G
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW vs WBU 13:10AS
GEE vs GCF 15:20SS
WCE vs FRE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC vs MEL 19:50MCG
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
STK vs CAR 11:10NZ
ESS vs COL 14:40MCG
GWS vs GCF 17:40SO
PTA vs HAW 19:40Adelaide Oval
FRE vs SYD 20:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI vs WCE 13:10G
GEE vs NTH 15:20SS
WBU vs ADE 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR vs COL 19:50MCG
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
RIC vs GEE 13:45MCG
SYD vs WBU 14:10SCG
GCF vs BRI 16:35MS
NTH vs HAW 19:20ES
WCE vs GWS 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
MEL vs FRE 13:10MCG
STK vs ESS 15:20ES
ADE vs PTA 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
COL vs GEE 19:50MCG
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
NTH vs RIC 13:45BA
WBU vs STK 14:10ES
GWS vs HAW 16:35Spotless Stadium
GCF vs ADE 17:10MS
MEL vs SYD 19:20MCG
FRE vs ESS 20:10Domain Stadium
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR vs BRI 15:20ES
PTA vs WCE 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS vs NTH 19:50ES
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE vs STK 13:45Adelaide Oval
HAW vs MEL 14:10MCG
CAR vs GWS 16:35ES
SYD vs GEE 19:20ANZ
WCE vs GCF 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
WBU vs FRE 13:10ES
RIC vs COL 15:20MCG
BRI vs PTA 16:40G
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
GEE vs CAR 19:50ES
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
STK vs WCE 13:45ES
GWS vs ADE 14:10Spotless Stadium
GCF vs COL 16:35MS
HAW vs SYD 19:20MCG
FRE vs NTH 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS vs BRI 13:10ES
MEL vs WBU 15:20MCG
PTA vs RIC 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD vs CAR 19:50SCG
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW vs GCF 13:45AS
MEL vs PTA 14:10TIO Traeger Park
WBU vs GWS 16:35ES
RIC vs ESS 19:20MCG
ADE vs FRE 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs STK 13:10G
COL vs NTH 15:20MCG
WCE vs GEE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR vs ADE 13:40MCG
GCF vs SYD 16:35MS
ESS vs GEE 19:20ES
PTA vs WBU 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
GWS vs BRI 13:10Spotless Stadium
NTH vs WCE 15:20BA
STK vs HAW 16:40ES
Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
GCF vs FRE 13:40MS
WCE vs ESS 16:35Domain Stadium
NTH vs SYD 19:20ES
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
COL vs GWS 13:10MCG
STK vs MEL 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Thu, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
ADE vs HAW 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC vs WCE 19:50MCG
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR vs PTA 13:40MCG
GWS vs NTH 16:35Spotless Stadium
WBU vs BRI 19:20ES
Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
GEE vs MEL 15:20SS
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE vs COL 20:10Domain Stadium
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD vs RIC 19:50SCG
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW vs ESS 13:40MCG
BRI vs ADE 16:35G
STK vs WBU 19:20ES
Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR vs GCF 15:20ES
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs PTA 19:20SCG
Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
COL vs HAW 19:50MCG
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs GWS 13:40MCG
GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
WBU vs CAR 19:20ES
MEL vs WCE 19:40TIO
Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS vs STK 13:10ES
ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
FRE vs BRI 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs COL 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs CAR 19:50MCG
Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS vs MEL 13:40MCG
WBU vs GCF 16:35CAZ
NTH vs GEE 19:20ES
WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs STK 13:10Spotless Stadium
HAW vs FRE 15:20AS
BRI vs SYD 16:40G
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
NTH vs ESS 19:50ES
Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE vs WBU 13:45SS
GCF vs GWS 14:10MS
COL vs WCE 16:35ES
SYD vs HAW 19:20ANZ
FRE vs CAR 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL vs BRI 13:10MCG
PTA vs ADE 15:20Adelaide Oval
STK vs RIC 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR vs HAW 19:50ES
Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs GEE 13:45SO
ADE vs GCF 14:10Adelaide Oval
RIC vs FRE 16:35MCG
ESS vs PTA 19:20ES
BRI vs NTH 19:20G
Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
WBU vs COL 13:10ES
MEL vs STK 15:20MCG
WCE vs SYD 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
HAW vs RIC 19:50MCG
Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE vs BRI 13:45SS
COL vs MEL 14:10MCG
SYD vs ADE 16:35SCG
CAR vs NTH 19:20ES
GCF vs WCE 19:20MS
Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
PTA vs STK 13:10Adelaide Oval
ESS vs WBU 15:20ES
FRE vs GWS 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
WBU vs PTA 14:10ES
BRI vs GCF 16:35G
GEE vs SYD 19:20SS
WCE vs HAW 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
MEL vs NTH 13:10MCG
GWS vs ESS 15:20Spotless Stadium
STK vs FRE 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD vs COL 19:50SCG
Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
ESS vs ADE 13:45ES
NTH vs STK 14:10BA
PTA vs GWS 16:35Adelaide Oval
GEE vs HAW 19:20MCG
BRI vs CAR 19:20G
Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC vs GCF 13:10MCG
WBU vs MEL 15:20ES
FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW vs PTA 19:50ES
Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
COL vs RIC 13:45MCG
GWS vs SYD 14:10Spotless Stadium
GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
STK vs GEE 19:20ES
ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH vs FRE 13:10ES
CAR vs MEL 15:20MCG
WCE vs WBU 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE vs COL 19:50MCG
Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
GWS vs CAR 13:45Spotless Stadium
HAW vs BRI 14:10AS
NTH vs WBU 16:35ES
ESS vs RIC 19:20MCG
GCF vs PTA 19:20MS
Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE vs WCE 13:10Adelaide Oval
STK vs SYD 15:20ES
FRE vs MEL 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
COL vs ESS 00:00MCG
RIC vs NTH 00:00ES
HAW vs CAR 00:00MCG
GEE vs ADE 00:00SS
SYD vs GCF 00:00SCG
MEL vs GWS 00:00ES
BRI vs WBU 00:00G
PTA vs FRE 00:30Adelaide Oval
WCE vs STK 02:00Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
AFL 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D % Pts
Adelaide Crows 3 3 0 0 171.27 12
Sydney Swans 3 3 0 0 141.75 12
Fremantle 2 2 0 0 139.84 8
Richmond 3 2 1 0 139.37 8
Collingwood 3 2 1 0 125.65 8
Western Bulldogs 2 2 0 0 118.95 8
GWS Giants 3 2 1 0 113.47 8
Essendon 3 2 1 0 104.74 8
View all
 
Featured advertisers