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FAREWELL TO MADAME TUSSAUD by Whispering Jack

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The drive to Casey Fields is always interesting. If you haven't been there for a few months, you're immediately struck by the amount of new residential building happening which is of course, one of the main reasons the Melbourne Football Club is out there in the first place. This is one of the fastest growing residential regions in the country and over time, it's hoped that the club will benefit from that growth and develop a much healthier supporter base than it has at present.

But all that is of no effect unless the club prospers and grows on the field and that's what I was looking for as I made the trip down the freeway to Cranbourne.

I wasn't expecting too much with the temperatures edging towards the low forties and the flies congregating around the small but hardy group of supporters who braved the oppressive conditions. This was compounded by the non appearance of the bulk of the club's talls who are suffering various ailments, none of which are said to be long term in nature. Missing were Mark Jamar, Max Gawn, Mitch Clark, Chris Dawes, Jack Fitzpatrick and Jesse Hogan. That left us to concentrate on a pre season training session in the heat involving many of the club's midfielders which is the area that has caused us so much distress in recent years. Even then we didn't see Bernie Vince or Aidan Riley and Jack Viney turned up but I didn't see him on the track. Even the coach is far away in Africa and we're less than a month away from the start of what used to be the NAB Cup.

However, there was enough on display to suggest that the emphasis in off season recruiting on the midfield will pay off. That is not to say that from hereon in the Demons will be elite in that division but rather, that they will be competitive and will perform like the bulk of the midfields in the competition and not resemble a bunch of fugitives from Madame Tussaud's waxworks. This is what I took from training and from what I have seen of the influx of players into the club through trades and the draft.

Dom Tyson looks all class, Viv Michie looms as a surprise packet, Daniel Cross has class and experience and we know what (the admittedly absent) Bernie Vince can do. Jack Watts is a classy mover and disposes of the ball well. Jimmy Toumpas looks as if he's going to step up in a big way and we have high hopes for Jack Viney, Sam Blease and a resurgent Jack Trengove minus the burden of the captaincy. Then there's one who impressed me this morning - Michael Evans who deserves a break from injury looks fit and solid and could be a bit of a surprise packet.

This will all add quality to our 2013 midfield of one, namely Nathan Jones. The way they trained and ran in the heat was impressive. There were a couple of little blokes who could also surprise by adding pace and skill to the set up in Dom Barry and Jay Kennedy-Harris. And if these changes made by the new coach bring result in a more solid, efficient and reliable engine room, imagine how much this is going to be appreciated by the overworked defence of the past and how the forward line (currently all in rehab apart from Jeremy Howe) will benefit in terms of greater opportunities for scoring.

Of course, all this is written in mid January, a traditional time for rose coloured glasses and things could well change dramatically over the coming months but I think we're on the up and up.

I remember sitting high up in the gods in our round three match against Richmond two years ago and, realising that our static midfield was bereft of any run and spread, knew we were in a spot of bother. Now, I know that we will no longer be wax figures in the most important part of the ground and that is where I see our improvement in the months ahead.

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