Saints v Tigers in clash of the up-and-comers
From the St Kilda training ground in Seaford, Rohan Connolly delivers his tips for round 10 of the AFL season.PT5M34S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-1zj0p 620 349 May 30, 2012
MELBOURNE has moved to quell growing supporter unrest by holding a series of summits at the club, led by president Don McLardy and including coach Mark Neeld and his senior assistant Neil Craig.
Neeld and Craig addressed the first supporter forum at the club's AAMI Park headquarters on Tuesday, where frustrated fans threw questions at a panel including CEO Cameron Schwab, football boss Josh Mahoney and his predecessor Chris Connolly.
The move has come with McLardy increasingly concerned that fans are turning away from the club, as demonstrated by Melbourne's increasingly dismal attendances and poor showing at recent functions.
The first meeting included longstanding coterie members and a Casey supporter group.
McLardy says the Demons, who are winless after nine rounds this season, are doing everything they can to improve their on-field performances and says he is convinced they have the building blocks in place for future success.
''No doubt some of the papers will again run with something that we've got a crisis meeting,'' McLardy said last night. ''It was the first of probably a series of five or six meetings. We've done this because we're a little bit tired of all the incorrect information that is put out about our football club.
''Pathetic and disgusting, that's what's on the back page of the paper about our footy club and our supporters read that and we highly object to it.
''So we've just started a range of meetings with all our key supporters, foundation heroes, coterie groups, to bring them in over the next six to eight weeks.
''We'll put me, along with [chief executive] Cameron Schwab, the coach [Mark Neeld] and [sports performance director] Neil Craig in front of them.
''They can ask us whatever they like and we'll detail them on what our plans are, how we're going about things and why we think we're on the right path.
''If last night is anything to go by, it will be a great thing to do and we got some great support out of it.''
McLardy said he wasn't dismissing what has been a hugely disappointing start to Neeld's tenure after the club won 8½ games last year.
''We are breaking our necks and working as hard as we can to fix that,'' he said.
''Clearly we have significant issues on the ground. I am not putting my head in the sand over that. What is happening is absolutely not acceptable.
''It was a very open and honest discussion and I think everyone left feeling a lot better. We have a plan going forward which is revised all the time.''
Before the start of last season, then coach Dean Bailey said the Demons had the rare opportunity of becoming the team of the decade. ''Cameron [Schwab] has mentioned before on a number of occasions [about becoming] the team of the decade. Well, these young men have that opportunity to do that,'' Bailey said 18 months ago.
''Very few get the chance to do that and be the part of history. It's a pretty significant thing, and we control that.''
McLardy said last night the Demons had worked closely with the AFL in the past four years to rebuild Melbourne from a financial embarrassment to a strong, credible football club.
One of the major criticisms levelled at Melbourne has been the decision to appoint 20-year-old Jack Trengove as co-captain.
''His form's not very good so everyone's going to say 'it's the captaincy','' McLardy said. ''Time will tell.'' With AAP