IT’S BEEN a long, long, long time since the Long Room rang with premiership cheers from the Melbourne members. LAWRENCE MONEY shares the misery as Melbourne miss out on finals yet again:
And so, as usual, it is left to Melbourne Demons fans to watch the AFL finals from the outer. The Dees, who missed out on a spot in the eight by a microscopic point-three of one percent last weekend, now trudge sadly towards their 54th consecutive season without a flag.
Dees fans in 2017 were even denied one of the small consolations we have enjoyed in recent years — the sight of jack-in-the-box Jeremy Howe soaring for mark-of-the-day. He was One of Ours but this season became One of Them, a Magpie. To rub salt in to the wound, the Dees’ loss to the Pies in the final round saw Howe take a screamer over his old red-and-blue team-mates.
Yes, following Melbourne is akin to being in a Shakespearean tragedy. Not only does the hero get cut down but the stars always seem to align to make it almost inevitable. From the infamous Jim Stynes 15-metre penalty in the 1987 prelim final, it has continued thus. Look at the astrological portents at play last Sunday. It just had to be the “farewell to Subiaco” game for the Eagles-Crows match, didn’t it? It just had to be the swan-song game there for the Eagles, chockers with sentiment and incentive.
It just had to be that same game, didn’t it, where giant Crows goal machine Tex Walker couldn’t play – sore toe or some such. And key Crows defender Talia? Out with a groin.
And look at that point-three of a percent. Even losing to the Pies the previous day had not been fatal for the Dee boys. If Jeff Garlett or Cam Pedersen had kicked those easy ones in front – the sort of goals they’ve been slotting all year – that extra percentage might have helped the Dees slip in. Or if Jesse Hogan – who had kicked six the previous week – had not limped off with a hamstring…
And yet, and yet. All that agonising would have been unnecessary if the Demons had beaten down-ladder North Melbourne, two weeks earlier. Surely, we thought at the time, the incentive of a final berth — for the first time since 2006 – was sufficient to down the Roos. Surely the Dees would be burning to avenge the 16 consecutive defeats the Roos had inflicted on the Demons until then. SIXTEEN!!
Nope. The struggling Roos won for the 17th time on the trot. SEVENTEENTH!
So, the Demons farewell 2017 with a mixed bag. No finals, but a few ripper interstate wins, the end of a few hoodoos (the Etihad curse and a long losing streak against the Saints) and a pledge by Demons chief Peter Jackson that the Dees will have “more prime-time slots” for TV in 2018.
It is also some solace that Melbourne claimed the culinary Internet sensation of 2017, thanks to the Demon fan who turned up at the G last month with a cheeseboard of smashed avocado, brie, prosciutto and sliced French breadstick. Hey, we Dees may not be kings of the AFL – not yet — but at least we eat like princes.
Tim Lane (2017): “Cameron kicks from 48. It’s close to the left behind goal post but it’s OK.”
Bruce McAvaney (2017): “Clever! Papley is a good sneaker.”
Anthony Hudson (2017): “Houston, had a bit of a problem.”
Jack Rowe, 3MA Mildura (1959): “What a shicking kock.”
Ted Rippon (ABC 1970s): “Jimmy Backley’s buck at Carlton.”
Lawrence Money has twice been named Victoria's best newspaper columnist by the Melbourne Press Club. He wrote columns for 37 years on the Melbourne Herald, Sunday Age and daily Age -- and in Royalauto and Your Sport magazines -- before retiring in 2016 after a 50-year career in journalism.
He still treads the speaking circuit, does radio gigs, tweets on @lozzacash and chases a long-gone 13 golf handicap. He clings to the eternal hope that the Melbourne Demons will once again win a flag.