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Demonland

CHANGES 2015 - a race around the stars

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The last time that Melbourne had a "winning season" (i.e one in which it won more games than it lost) was 2006. The club has undergone numerous changes in its quest to improve and in the main the outcome has been abject failure although its current trajectory is a welcome move forward and upward. Forward and upward enough perhaps to suggest that one day soon the Demons might even enjoy the experience of those clubs left today in the finals race around the stars.

If there is one thing that the club has lacked in the past decade and even in the years before it has been star quality. It has only one player on its list with All Australian credentials and those were achieved at another club and half a decade ago. With the recent departure of Mark Jamar, we don't have a single home grown All Australian - a sad indictment on the club's recruitment and player development over this period.

Of course, there are changes taking place and since the advent of Paul Roos as coach only two years ago, they have brought new faces onto the scene, a new attitude and new-found hope. We can't but feel excited about the likes of Jack Viney who narrowly missed out on becoming club champion this year, Jesse Hogan the NAB Rising Star, Angus Brayshaw, Dom Tyson and last year's second pick in the draft, Christian Petracca, who is yet to play a game due to a knee injury.

"Bluey" medallist Bernie Vince has also made an impact in his short time at the club and while Heritier Lumumba didn't set the world alight, he had an impact on the playing group and brings a premiership attitude with him. Sam Frost broke his toe early in the season so we didn't see enough of him and there is a bevy of other names such as Stretch, Neal-Bullen, Harmes, Oscar McDonald and White who have now experienced AFL football at the highest level and have valuable games in their legs.

As the 2015 season wore on - and at times it remained a painful thing to experience - it became clear that the coaching panel's emphasis was on ringing in the changes and bringing the youth to the fore, even if at the expense of winning (and I'm not telling a joke when I say that!). Without a doubt, these are the stepping stones to the stars.

The club's playing list for 2015 was:-

PRIMARY LIST:

Rohan Bail Angus Brayshaw Daniel Cross Chris Dawes Lynden Dunn Jack Fitzpatrick Sam Frost Max Gawn Jeff Garlett Jack Grimes Jesse Hogan Jeremy Howe Jayden Hunt Mark Jamar Neville Jetta Matt Jones Nathan Jones Jay Kennedy-Harris Dean Kent Heritier Lumumba Oscar McDonald Tom McDonald Jordie McKenzie Viv Michie Alex Neal-Bullen Ben Newton Christian Petracca Aidan Riley Christian Salem Jake Spencer Billy Stretch Dean Terlich Jimmy Toumpas Jack Trengove Dom Tyson Bernie Vince Jack Viney Jack Watts

ROOKIE LIST: CATEGORY A

James Harmes Max King Aaron vandenBerg Mitch White

ROOKIE LIST: CATEGORY B

Nil

That list was good enough to lift its on field result from four wins to seven in 2015, to raise its percentage by almost 9% and to improve its ladder position from 17th to 13th. That's still a position in the bottom third of the competition but it's clear that the changes in playing personnel (more than 20 list positions turned over in two trade/draft periods) are slowly and inexorably having their effect.

And as for the future, the club has already signaled that there will be no let up to the policy of turning over the numbers to improve the playing list. Even before the curtain fell on the season, Daniel Cross and Mark Jamar's careers came to an end when the club announced it would not renew their contracts.

Yesterday, it announced the delisting of Rohan Bail, Jack Fitzpatrick, Jordie McKenzie and Aidan Riley, all good servants who are the victims of inevitable change and will therefore not be taking part in the club's race to the stars. With the trade and draft period looming, we know that they are not the only ones but we salute them all for their efforts and contributions to the red and the blue.
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