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Face your demons

Date

Martin Blake

Tom Scully will have to confront hostile Demons fans at the MCG this weekend.

Tom Scully will have to confront hostile Demons fans at the MCG this weekend. Photo: Brendan Esposito

TOM Scully is going to a place a few have been before him, and none of them found it particularly pleasant.

A player who chooses to leave his club is always going to hear it from the fans. For all the changes in footy, that tradition remains. It is magnified by the fact that Scully went when he was so young (he is still only 21), that he went for big money (an estimated $6 million over six years), that he was a prized recruit (No. 1 pick in the 2009 national draft) and that he insisted all through 2011 that he had not made a decision.

His time is Sunday at the MCG for Greater Western Sydney against Melbourne. ''Obviously I understand that it'll be a pretty hostile reception,'' he said in Sydney yesterday. ''But I'm just looking forward to getting down there and it's a great opportunity for the boys to get down to Melbourne and play at the MCG for the first time, which is exciting for the group.''

Scully is prepared, though he also ventured yesterday that he thought most Demons fans had moved on from his exit.

The comments on internet discussion boards yesterday, some hostile the point of distastefulness, scarcely supported his argument.

Giants coach Kevin Sheedy has challenged the Demons' supporters to come out, but Melbourne hopes to put the whole thing behind it. The last thing the Demons want is a drama over Scully. ''At the end of the year there are always changes of personnel and Tom was one of those,'' said Melbourne's football manager Josh Mahoney. ''We've got new players, new coaches and we've moved on.''

How hostile will the reception be? ''We want our supporters to show their passion for Melbourne on game day,'' he said.

Scully remains in contact with some former teammates including Sam Blease.

''Obviously guys were disappointed, but I think they understood my decision and respected it,'' Scully said. ''From that point of view, I've had no issues from any of the players. Once it all eventuated that I was coming here, I'm sure the Melbourne people would've been disappointed, but we're all professional sportspeople, we've all got jobs to do and we all move on pretty quickly.

''It's been a long time since it's happened, I think most people have got over it, once it comes around there might be some boos, but I think people will get over it and get on with it.''

Some of the biggest names in football moved early in their careers. Nathan Buckley stayed just a season with Brisbane Bears after they drafted him, carrying out his promise to return to Melbourne, and signing at 21 to play out his career at Collingwood. Anthony Rocca and Shannon Grant both started with Sydney but quickly returned to Collingwood and North Melbourne.

Scott Thompson is playing a starring role with Adelaide, but spent his first four years playing for Melbourne.

All of them suffered the catcalls and so did more senior players who shifted, including former Geelong captain Leigh Colbert, who went to North Melbourne, and of course Tony Lockett (St Kilda to Sydney) and Carlton's captain Chris Judd, who just last weekend was roundly hooted every time he went near the football at Subiaco against his original club, West Coast.

Farther back there is perhaps the most famous player transfer in history, Ron Barassi's defection from Melbourne to Carlton at the end of 1964.

For players, it is an occupational hazard. With free agency coming, it is guaranteed to get tougher.

That's if you call playing for $1 million a year tough going.

14 comments

  • Scully will be fine on the weekend and should enjoy the open spaces of the MCG. Looking forward to seeing Patton, Cameron and Folau all out there on a dry day.

    Commenter
    Paul
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    June 19, 2012, 8:55AM
    • Scully will be pretty upset what with 5 thousand odd demons fans booing him if it rains they will get less than 10k to that game the g will have tumbleweeds

      Commenter
      Greg
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      June 19, 2012, 9:10AM
      • 10,000 would be a record crowd at skoda. I wonder if they built the stands to reconfigure for soccer? Its the only future for the area. If you don't believe me do a survey of how many grass roots footy teams and ovals are in western Sydney.

        The AFL - P#$$ing your and my money up against the wall

        Commenter
        kepler22b
        Date and time
        June 19, 2012, 11:38AM
    • Of course he was going to take the cash - the AFL have had to throw around ridiculous money to get people interested in this joke of a team. It will end up being a very expensive mistake.

      Oh and why do they persist with calling Sheedy the coach? He has very little to do with coaching the team and is there to make lots of noise and whip up lots of PR. Mark Williams is the coach of GWS/Canberra.

      Commenter
      Jono
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      June 19, 2012, 9:12AM
      • Rocca and Grant didn't "return" to Collingwood and North Melbourne (respectively). Both players were never at those clubs originally.

        Buckley didn't "carry out his promise to return to Melbourne"... He was drafted from Port Adelaide and has origins in the Northern Territory. He simply always wanted to play for Collingwood, but there was no "return to Melbourne".

        Commenter
        Adelaide
        Date and time
        June 19, 2012, 10:28AM
        • The booing of Judd last week was the worst I've heard. Come on, the guy took the Eagles to finals, grand finals, a premiership, was club captain...Pretty poor from the crowd. IMO.

          Commenter
          GB
          Date and time
          June 19, 2012, 10:28AM
          • I agree GB (and I am a WCE supporter). I remember a few years ago when Kevin Garnett left Minnesota for Boston. At his first game against his old club (at Minnesota), he got a standing ovation from the crowd before the game because of his acheivements with the club before he left.
            It would be nice occasionally to have the fans recognise this part of it, rather then be controlled by the perceived "selfishness" of leaving.

            Commenter
            burnsy
            Date and time
            June 19, 2012, 11:16AM
        • Whats he worried about. Ski season apoened the other day.. Melbourne won't have any supporters at the game....

          Commenter
          Bean
          Location
          Beanville
          Date and time
          June 19, 2012, 10:42AM
          • Take you long to come up with that one Bean? A joke about Melbourne supporters going skiing. Original.

            Commenter
            dee4life
            Date and time
            June 19, 2012, 11:18AM
          • You not what Bean, I have barracked for Melbourne all my life because my father barracked for them and his father barracked for them, I never been to the snow and sure as hell don't own a holiday house in the snow, I don't drive a Range Rover, I enjoy Beer and Bourbon, fast cars, even faster women and tattoos, I am the new millennium Melbourne Demons supporter, and to paint the picture even clearer I am frowned upon by Collingwood supporters when at the footy I think we can let the jokes from the 60's go because the new age Melbourne supporter doesn't fit the stereotype.

            Commenter
            Iron Man
            Date and time
            June 19, 2012, 11:59AM

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