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Jobs on line: Dees warned

Cameron Schwab talks to Jack Grimes after training on Thursday.

Cameron Schwab talks to Jack Grimes after training on Thursday. Photo: Getty Images


A SENIOR Melbourne football official is said to have evoked the image of a disappointed and cancer-stricken Jim Stynes to impress on coach Dean Bailey how he felt about the Demons' 11-point victory over Port Adelaide in 2009.

The AFL's investigation into the Melbourne tanking affair has also been given evidence against chief executive Cameron Schwab, who, with football boss Chris Connolly, expressed his concern to Bailey after the round-15 victory.

Investigators have been told that Connolly later warned a large group of football staff they would be sacked if Melbourne kept winning.

As the AFL continues its exhaustive and potentially explosive inquiry it has emerged that league-appointed IT experts moved into the Demons' headquarters last month to investigate club email trails dating back to 2009 and possibly earlier.

With Connolly's football future in serious jeopardy and that of Schwab hanging in the balance, both men have been further implicated in the affair following the damaging testimonies of several key witnesses.

Adrian Anderson's investigators, Brett Clothier and Abraham Haddad, have been told of potentially threatening conversations that took place in the bowels of the MCG on the evening of Sunday, July 12, 2009. Neither Schwab nor Connolly have returned calls from the The Age this week. It is not known whether they have responded to the AFL about these allegations.

Melbourne had just won its second game in succession, defeating Port to take its winning tally that year to three - perilously close to the maximum four allowed in order to win a priority pick.

Witnesses have confirmed that a grim-faced Schwab walked up to the senior coach in the Melbourne changing rooms after the siren and reminded him to consider the future of the club and the ramifications facing the Demons at the end of the season.

Connolly, within earshot, allegedly made a comment along the following lines: ''Jimmy's just fallen out of his hospital bed.'' President Stynes had been diagnosed with cancer the previous month and was at that time recovering from surgery. The AFL investigators were told the inference was that Stynes would not have been happy about the win.

Assistant coaches and other staffers were allegedly threatened with their football futures in the infamous meeting that followed that game - code named ''the vault''.

The meeting took place at the Junction Oval after the Port win. It is now known that the AFL was told Connolly pointed to player names written on a whiteboard and that one of those names was that of the teenage football sensation from Haileybury College Tom Scully.

One version of events is that Connolly, in illustrating the importance of winning less than five games so as to gain Scully with a No. 1 draft pick, spoke of ''the cavalry'' riding over a hill and coming to get those coaches and football officials who allowed Melbourne to win too many games and therefore miss the priority pick.

Another version claimed Connolly surveyed the room of some 15 men - coach Bailey, his assistants, recruiters and other football staff - and told them that the consequences of missing the priority pick would be that they would all lose their jobs.

Melbourne lost the following week to Geelong and then travelled to Manuka Oval to face Sydney. The view of several key Swans is that Melbourne was being coached to lose that day and that view is shared by several players at Richmond, the side that played Melbourne in round 18.

As the Melbourne board prepares its defence against what is emerging as a clear if subtle plan to gain a priority pick - one which ran into trouble and some panic after successive victories in July 2009 - the evidence implicating Schwab could prove the final straw for the long-serving club CEO, who was almost sacked in late July last year.

A clearer picture continues to come to light of the disunity and disenchantment at Melbourne during that time - divisions that increasingly pitched the players and the coach at damaging odds with club officials.

60 comments so far

  • As a staunch and committed Demons supporter I am completely shattered by these further allegations. As a financial member, I ask why on earth I have been supporting this Club when all of this has been going on behind closed doors. How stupid are they? I've sat in the stands freezing my proverbial off, seeing the team completely disheartened on many occasions and now, when we finally have the chance to be on the improve and move forward, all of these could be taken away. I will continue to suppor the Club that I love .. I know that, but how hard does it have to be? Mind you, this investigation shouldn't stop at Melbourne... there would be a few other nervous club officials out there I would think.

    Date and time
    November 02, 2012, 8:46AM
    • Footy fans have no stomach for any of the really difficult questions about the game. The culture around the game including the journalists have cocooned the fans away from the harsh realities of tanking, the use of performance enhancing drugs, gay footy players, salary cap manipulation and the favouritism shown to the top clubs.

      Date and time
      November 02, 2012, 12:07PM
    • Demons4me....if I loved my club as much as you do (and I do) AND the club were languishing at the bottom or even the middle of the ladder, I would INSIST that the management make the team TANK.

      Nothing is worse than supporting a mediocre team that year after year finish 9th or even 8th (only to be thrashed in the first round of September action). Teams like this go no where because they can't get good picks and can't beat good teams.

      I would prefer my team suffer heavy losses for a few years (tank) get good draft picks and prosper again SOONER.

      This way the cycle is shortened.

      If I loved my team, I want them to win a FLAG in the next few years....not 'heroics' to win 5 games and then miss out of good picks in the draft.

      Marcus Camby
      Date and time
      November 02, 2012, 3:28PM
  • I think I can speak for a lot of Melbourne supporters in saying that we wanted these two gone a long time ago! Now piss off and let us have our club.
    and to think I actually cheered and barracked for this side at the time

    Date and time
    November 02, 2012, 8:53AM
    • Chris - you have nothing to feel bad about in cheering for your club at the time. I am not a Melbourne supporter but I have nothing but respect for supporters of all clubs who go along as often as they can to cheer and support their team regardless of ladder position. Your club's administration at that time were custodians of the club on behalf of members and supporters like yourself. You have no influence on policy or decisions making. You fulfilled your end of the bargain by attending, cheering and supporting. In ways the club was only doing what they felt would be of long term benefit. The AFL is now investigating the effect of a situation that their fundementally flawed system created. I remember attending a Collingwood (yes I am one of those) v North game late in the 2005 season. The Pies were up late in the game and as supporters we were all wondering why when two top draft picks were on the line. There was little joy that season but there we were, as supporters, torn between naturally wanting our team to win but not wanting to blow the chance of a brighter future (Thomas & Pendlebury). When the siren went and North narrowly won it was a strange feeling indeed. Interestingly Buckley and Burns spent a great deal of time late in the game deep in defence whereas earlier they had been predminantly on-ball. Tanking? Maybe! Mate - stick by your club it's all you can do and hopefully whatever eventuates the AFL at least accept some responsibility for creating the system and then do something to fix it like the lottery system used in the NBA.

      Date and time
      November 02, 2012, 11:27AM
    • Digby you're spot on. The AFL are on thin ice here and need to approach this carefully as a problem with the system rather than an isolated incident. It's pretty clear all clubs have done this to various degrees, and Melbourne's board is rightly calling for the investigation to be public and fair and capable of consistent follow-through with all clubs - as opposed to the typical AFL kanagroo court - where they tie themselves in knots trying to bush-lawyer a self-serving and self-excusing 'solution' that scapegoats a weak opponent and doesn't address the root cause.

      Date and time
      November 02, 2012, 1:37PM
  • Errrr.....why would Connolly have threatened assistants, recruiters, and other football staff? Seriously, what could they do stop the team winning....spike the half time oranges perhaps?? It would have been much easier for Connolly to have told the players to "play like you normally do". A guaranteed lost.

    Date and time
    November 02, 2012, 8:54AM
    • They did all this to get that dud footballer Scully? Thing is he ahs been tanking ever since!

      Date and time
      November 02, 2012, 9:11AM
      • FWOZ, the demoralizing and career destroying culture at the Demons is to blame for any of the Demon's players value decline...the players should take a class action out against the Demons for destroying their futures!

        Date and time
        November 02, 2012, 11:27AM
    • Another article with no facts so far in 5 articles you have established there was a meeting in which the priority pick was discussed. Newflash the whole football world was discussing it at the time so not tanking to talk about what would happen should Melbourne win more than 4 games."He said" she said "a source is believed to have heard" "alledgedly" . no hard facts yet they may come but at the moment the media is self fuelling this story in the interest of itself

      Date and time
      November 02, 2012, 9:12AM

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