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.