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MadAsHell

Dees who may be gone in 2019

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Thought I may start this thread to open the discussion into the players some people think may not be at the club for any number of reasons next year.  

Having looked through our list, I came up with 14 that I think fall into this category.  Not to say I don't think all 14 wont be there, but that they're the 14 most in danger so to speak and anywhere from half to 10 of them may not be there.  So thought I'd lay them out and see what other people thought or if there were other players people also thought would fall into this bracket.

RETIREMENTS:

Harley Balic (already retired)

Cameron Pedersen & Bernie Vince: Now these two may retire off their own bat, or they may get delisted.  But I highly doubt either of these two will be there next year.  Pedersen is probably playing well enough at VFL level to be picked up by another club as a good depth player.   Bernie is on the record as saying in the media he wants to play for as long as he can.  If no other club is interested, maybe he'd be happy to sign on at Casey to help develop the young guys?

 

POTENTIAL TRADE BAIT:

Sam Frost: He's contracted and I think he'll likely stay, but with Lever to return next year and both Harrison Petty & Declan Keilty on the list, will Sam or the club see the writting on the wall on look to explore their options?  Personally I think he's more likely to stay then leave unless we get an offer to good to refuse.

Dean Kent: Out of contract and out of favor, Dean may look to explore his options at years end.  With Jeffy not getting any younger, I think think there's a potential role in our best 22 for Dean, however a combination of form and injuries haven't allowed him to cement a spot.  WA boy, however I think he's either about to or has just recently become a father, so not sure if his partner is a WA or VIC girl?  50/50 on whether Dean stays or goes for me.

Dom Tyson: Similar to Frost, Dom is contracted and at his best we know that he's a very good player.  However, with a midfield of Oliver, Brayshaw, Viney hopefully being injury free and Jones I think still having 2 years left in him beyond this year, is there a spot for Dom in our best team?  He's also too good a player to be a depth player, spending half the year in the VFL IMO.  We may use Dom to try and improve our draft hand, given we have no first round pick, or he may come to us and request a trade himself if he wants to further his opportunities.  Either way, as he's contracted, it will need to be a good trade.  Think Dom may be more likely to leave then stay, but that's just a gut feel.

 

POTENTIAL DELISTINGS:

Tom Bugg: I'm going to be honest and admitt that I like Tommy Bugg.  I see value in a depth player like Bugg and was actually surprised when Vandenberg came in for Melksham the other week, as I see that as a role that Bugg would perform well in.  Having said that, I'm a realist and the lack of matches Bugg has played this year, especially in the 2nd half of the year says it all.  I expect him to be delisted, but hope another team picks him up as a DFA.

Lachie Filipovic: Pretty sure it was 4 or 5 out of his first 6 games in the VFL D-League last year, Lachie was named in the best, and I was thinking to myself we could have a good one here!  However to say this year has been disapointing from a supporters point of view would be a huge understatement.  He looks athletic and agile enough, but from the half dozen games I've watched Flip this year, he just isn't competative enough in the ruck, doesn't get involved enough in the play, and can't seem to take a mark to save himself.  I know rucks take time, but Lachie looks a long, long way off.  This was most evident on the weekend when Mitch King injured his knee and instead of Flip going into the ruck, Tim Smith & Weideman were asked to share those responsibilities.  Will be shocked if he's still there come next year.

Dion Johnston: Quite bizzare is the Dion Johnston story so far.  Recruited as a small forward and was talked up heavily in his first pre-season by Nathan Jones as someone to watch out for.  And although Plapp regularly sung his praises re: his forward pressure and doing the team things at Casey throughout his first season, the main thing that stood out was Dion's inability to hit the score board or get much of the ball.  Things seemed to be following a similar trend early this year, until Rawlings moved Dion into a small defenders role and it was reported Dion had also been teamed up with Nev as a mentor.  Now since the move Dion certainly hasn't dominated, but he's looked a lot more at home in defence and there could well be something there to work with.  He's no certainty to be on the list next year, however I wouldn't be surprised if he received a 1 year extension to push his case further, and personally I'd be more then happy with that.

Declan Keilty: When we recruited Declan at the end of 2016 I was wrapped that we got him as I saw a huge amount of upside in this guy.  Good CHB with the ability to play forward and pinch hit in the ruck.  I then thought his 2017 was a little underwhelming and was a little surprised when he was given another year for 2018.  However I'm glad the coaches did as I think he has been sensational down at Casey this year.  Played mainly back with a couple of stints forward, Declan's aerial game especially has gone to another level this year.  Now the club may consider delisting him given Lever & Oscar seem to be the prefered options, Petty is coming through and the fact Frost is also contracted.  However given Declan's versatility and the fact Pedersen will likely be moved on, I think the club will see Declan as our new Pedersen with the ability to fill holes where required.  I hope & expect Declan to be given a 3rd year on the rookie list.

Jay Kennedy-Harris: Like many on here, about 6 weeks ago I thought JKH was an automatic delist come years end, however he's grasped this opportunity that has come his way thanks to good form in the VFL prior and an unfortunate injury to Stretch.  I conceed JKH lacks certain tricks, however he does the team things well and there's nothing wrong with retaining certain foot soldiers.  I'd imagine he's played his way into a new 1 year deal if he wants it.

Mitch King: Of the two young ruckman on our list, Mitch King is the more promising.  He does show a willingness to compete and drift forward to take a mark and goal.  He's also had injury issues in his three years at the club including doing an ACL on his VFL debut back in 2016.  However despite these admirable traits, King gets monstered on a regular basis at VFL level, meaning I'd hate to see what would happen if Max got injured and Mitch came in for him in the AFL.  Mitch could well make it at AFL level, however I suspect that may well be up to 5 years away, which is a big investment to make with no guarentees.  I'd imagine the club is more likely then not to delist and encourage him to join a VFL, SANFL, WAFL or NEAFL team and follow his progress.

Pat McKenna: Was best on ground in the 2016 NEAFL Grand Final the smooth moving midfielder/half back with good kicking skills.  The talented junior cricket star has been crueled by hamstring injuries since joining the club, but in the last few weeks he's finally been able to get out on the park for Casey.  Baring any major hamstring injury in the last few weeks of this season, I expect the club will give him a further 1 year deal in the same manner they gave Hunt 1 year after his initial 2 years that were hampered by back issues.

Tim Smith: Has been in & out of the team this year and been not to bad when given the opportunity.  Has shown that he is a very good and mobile forward at VFL level, and his aerobic capacity makes him an ideal call up for either of Hogan or Tommy Mc, should injury or suspension strike.  Given the clubs eagerness to play him and name him as an emergency on a regular basis, I expect that he will also be given a 3rd year on the rookie list.

Finally I thought I should briefly touch on four other players who could fall into the above category, however I suspect there's next to no chance of them leaving/being delsited/traded.  These players being Jayden Hunt, Billy Stretch, Aaron Vandenberg & Sam Weideman.  Apart from the fact that 3 of these 4 are contracted, I feel as though the club rates all these players far to highly and/or have invested too much for them to consider parting ways with, even if they requested a trade.

Interested to hear if other people agree, or if there's others you feel may be in danger or ones that I listed above who I think will stay, but you think will leave?

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Good thread.

I think Kent will ask for a trade. 

Johnstone, King, Fillapovic, Mckenna, Bugg will all be delisted.

Vince will retire.

Pederson could potentially get picked up by either Carlton or GC for depth (handy depth too) if not, then he'll most likely just retire.

Tyson and Frost are both contracted for next year and are in our starting 22 and playing important roles. Cant see them leaving, especially Tyson who i think will definitely stay now with uncertain future of Viney.

Tim Smith, JKH, and Keilty will all be offered 1 year deals. Smith did not start full training till February this year, so I'd like to give him an injury free pre season and have him sitting their for depth. I also feel like Keilty has been so dam close to debut that unfortunately when the opportunity has opened, hes just either had a niggle or missed games.

 

JKH has improved his pressure and defensive side hugely. I honestly still think there's definitely a spot for him on thag half forward wing position. Spargo is starting to tire out.. so I'd move JKH back to a forward pocket and let him harrass and chase all day.

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How important has Frosty been since Lever went down then Hibbo, Unless its an incredible offer he is a must keep, he's best 22 when Lever is fit.

Vince, Pedersen happy for them to go around again with the same proviso that they could be playing in the VFL more often than not.

 

Edited by Win4theAges
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4 minutes ago, dazzledavey36 said:

Good thread.

I think Kent will ask for a trade. 

Johnstone, King, Fillapovic, Mckenna, Bugg will all be delisted.

Vince will retire.

Pederson could potentially get picked up by either Carlton or GC for depth (handy depth too) if not, then he'll most likely just retire.

Tyson and Frost are both contracted for next year and are in our starting 22 and playing important roles. Cant see them leaving, especially Tyson who i think will definitely stay now with uncertain future of Viney.

Tim Smith, JKH, and Keilty will all be offered 1 year deals. Smith did not start full training till February this year, so I'd like to give him an injury free pre season and have him sitting their for depth. I also feel like Keilty has been so dam close to debut that unfortunately when the opportunity has opened, hes just either had a niggle or missed games.

 

JKH has improved his pressure and defensive side hugely. I honestly still think there's definitely a spot for him on thag half forward wing position. Spargo is starting to tire out.. so I'd move JKH back to a forward pocket and let him harrass and chase all day.

Yeah good topic an I agree with DD's except that we only have to turn over 6 players, and you've put forward 9, remember Balic has already retired (or 8 if we get a player instead of pick for Kent).

Depending if we go for Gaff or another free agent then one or 2 of Johnstone, Flip, McKenna or Bugg might hold on, plus we won't have a great deal of draft picks. It might just come down to the $$$, keeping Bugg, JHK and TSmith will be more expensive than a new draftee or one of those who haven't played seniors yet, it might only be a couple of hundred thousand but that might be needed to help retain Hogan or get Gaff?

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For those who say Vince will retire who takes his place.

The place has been available in reality all year but no one at VFL level has gotten within a bull's roar of displacing Vince on their own form.

For that reason he will get another year and I hope by round 6 he is depth at Casey.

Weideman is the conundrum. With Hogan and T Mac is there a regular place for him and if not will he ask to go elsewhere. I suspect he will be content to remain for 2019 but 2020 could be crunch time.

Pederson stays unless we recruit a back up ruckman.

As to all the other candidates they all have positives and negatives and will pose difficult decisions for the list committee. Unfortunately I think Bugg is gone.

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We'd be stupid to trade Frost. We'd get a soggy banana for him, and we've seen with injuries just how important backline depth is.

Besides, I think Frost can slot into our best 22, and once Lever is back, the pressure on Frost to take the game on, and inevitably turn the ball over, will dramatically decrease, which will make him a far more reliable player.

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7 minutes ago, Diamond_Jim said:

For those who say Vince will retire who takes his place.

The place has been available in reality all year but no one at VFL level has gotten within a bull's roar of displacing Vince on their own form.

For that reason he will get another year and I hope by round 6 he is depth at Casey.

Weideman is the conundrum. With Hogan and T Mac is there a regular place for him and if not will he ask to go elsewhere. I suspect he will be content to remain for 2019 but 2020 could be crunch time.

Pederson stays unless we recruit a back up ruckman.

As to all the other candidates they all have positives and negatives and will pose difficult decisions for the list committee. Unfortunately I think Bugg is gone.

Id like to think by next year Hunt and Wagner will step up and consolidate that spot. 

Sorry but even as depth Vince is finished. Went a year too long. He will retire and i think even he knows that now.

Edited by dazzledavey36
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Hard men you blokes...we go two to three games into finals this year, with what we have got, and there would be four changes at most with Gaff. Even then i would be sitting, subject to rule changes......

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6 minutes ago, dazzledavey36 said:

Id like to think by next year Hunt and Wagner will step up and consolidate that spot. 

Sorry but even as depth Vince is finished. Went a year too long. He will retire and i think even he knows that now.

Wagner has had all year to take it and has not done so.Hunt is not a defensive back.

Cannot really see either of them in the mix. I am tending to think we may need to trade/recruit at the fringe to find a candidate.

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20 minutes ago, Diamond_Jim said:

For those who say Vince will retire who takes his place.

The place has been available in reality all year but no one at VFL level has gotten within a bull's roar of displacing Vince on their own form.

For that reason he will get another year and I hope by round 6 he is depth at Casey.

Weideman is the conundrum. With Hogan and T Mac is there a regular place for him and if not will he ask to go elsewhere. I suspect he will be content to remain for 2019 but 2020 could be crunch time.

Pederson stays unless we recruit a back up ruckman.

As to all the other candidates they all have positives and negatives and will pose difficult decisions for the list committee. Unfortunately I think Bugg is gone.

 

14 minutes ago, dazzledavey36 said:

Id like to think by next year Hunt and Wagner will step up and consolidate that spot. 

Sorry but even as depth Vince is finished. Went a year too long. He will retire and i think even he knows that now.

This.  Plus with Lever coming back, we may go with three tall defenders which frees Hibberd up into Vince's role.  I love Vince, but he's on his last legs for mine.

6 minutes ago, willmoy said:

Hard men you blokes...we go two to three games into finals this year, with what we have got, and there would be four changes at most with Gaff. Even then i would be sitting, subject to rule changes......

Potentially.  Or we could loose our next 3 and miss the finals.

The point being, either way that any list changes are likely to come from the players listed....

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Frost is being touted (within the players at the club) as the guy to stop Buddy. He's not going anywhere.

Vince has already said he'd be happy playing out his days at Casey, if that is what the club wanted.

The rest I'll leave to the more astute watchers.

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1 minute ago, Uncle Fester said:

Frost is being touted (within the players at the club) as the guy to stop Buddy. He's not going anywhere.

Vince has already said he'd be happy playing out his days at Casey, if that is what the club wanted.

The rest I'll leave to the more astute watchers.

I'd also like to think he wont be going.  I think the only way he's leaving is if he went to the club and asked for a trade.  Wont be the other way round.

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54 minutes ago, Diamond_Jim said:

For those who say Vince will retire who takes his place.

The place has been available in reality all year but no one at VFL level has gotten within a bull's roar of displacing Vince on their own form.

For that reason he will get another year and I hope by round 6 he is depth at Casey.

Weideman is the conundrum. With Hogan and T Mac is there a regular place for him and if not will he ask to go elsewhere. I suspect he will be content to remain for 2019 but 2020 could be crunch time.

Pederson stays unless we recruit a back up ruckman.

As to all the other candidates they all have positives and negatives and will pose difficult decisions for the list committee. Unfortunately I think Bugg is gone.

Without the injuries to Lever, JSmith, Hibberd and also Hunt, I believe Vince would already be at Casey. I know Hunt has been at Casey but I would have thought he would have fought his way back in by now if he wasn't. I just can't see us carrying Lewis and Vince next year as they both look slow at times. 

Weid has been doing a lot of back up ruck, and for mine is now much better than Pederson at that role, so again I think Ped's days are numbered due to age and speed.

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My thoughts:

Vince, Balic (retired)

King, Filipovic, McKenna, Johnstone, (delisted)

Bugg / Kent / JKH - can't see the need for all three to stay, and one may be enough in honesty. Wouldn't be surprised to see Kent look elsewhere. JKH presumably most likely to get another year given current state of affairs.

Pedersen - another one year deal. He provides valuable depth in a number of positions.

Frost / Tyson - both contracted and both stay. I hope we've made it clear to both that they are required players long term.

T.Smith / Weideman - I don't rate either of them, but I expect Smith to get another one year deal. The heat will be on Weideman if he is still at Casey this time next year.

Keilty - happy to see him get another year.

Vandenberg - presumably will get another year, but he's just depth for me.

Maynard - very, very fortunate to have a contract for next year. Otherwise a clear delist.

We should be looking at 1-2 free agents, 4 draft picks and 2-3 rookie selections. I would be happy to play 38 + 6 rookies next year, as opposed to 40 + 4 this year.

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Would be very surprised if they only now got McKenna back to fitness and delist him, at worst will be re-rookied I reckon. 

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5 minutes ago, watchtheeyes said:

Would be very surprised if they only now got McKenna back to fitness and delist him, at worst will be re-rookied I reckon. 

Is he any good? Pretty hard to tell since he's barely played (for us and GWS)

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12 minutes ago, The Lobster Effect said:

Is he any good? Pretty hard to tell since he's barely played (for us and GWS)

We thoughts so when we traded for him, and he hasn't had an opportunity to show us since he got here. So I think he at least gets the opportunity to do that. Perfect rookie candidate for me.

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18 minutes ago, watchtheeyes said:

Would be very surprised if they only now got McKenna back to fitness and delist him, at worst will be re-rookied I reckon. 

Agreed.

12 minutes ago, The Lobster Effect said:

Is he any good? Pretty hard to tell since he's barely played (for us and GWS)

That's why I suspect he'll get a 1 year deal.  What we did with Hunt when he missed most of his first 2 years with back issues.

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I think JKH's name was associated with Carlton at some time in the past.

He might be the subject of interest to them again at the end of the year.

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35 minutes ago, watchtheeyes said:

We thoughts so when we traded for him, and he hasn't had an opportunity to show us since he got here. So I think he at least gets the opportunity to do that. Perfect rookie candidate for me.

Are there still going to be rookies next year (apart from International/Alternative sport category)? I can't see the point anymore. Can't rookies play at any time now without being "promoted"?

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2 hours ago, willmoy said:

Hard men you blokes...we go two to three games into finals this year, with what we have got, and there would be four changes at most with Gaff. Even then i would be sitting, subject to rule changes......

A good thread but just a bit premature.

A few blokes could be playing for their careers at Melbourne over the next three games. Completely in their own hands.

IMO a positive really. 

Acid and microscope on over the next few weeks.

If we do ok, no need to move too many deck chairs.

 

 

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2 hours ago, willmoy said:

Hard men you blokes...we go two to three games into finals this year, with what we have got, and there would be four changes at most with Gaff. Even then i would be sitting, subject to rule changes......

Interesting take by you.

I actually have at least eight changes to our list for next season and there are plenty of reasons to suggest it should happen.

1) Draft observers keep saying it is one of the best for several seasons. They say that pretty regularly I know, but it certainly isn't one where people are saying it lacks depth at top like last year.

2) If we are to get Gaff, then we will have salary cap issues if we don't bring in some young kids who usually start on the base wages. Removing a few of our highly-paid veterans becomes smart economics.

3) We have three (arguably four players) in the mix to retire - Vince, Pedo, Jordy and Jeffy.

4) We have three players who have been given two years to make it and they are still a long way off from making a debut - Dion, Lochie and Mitch King. There will be no money saved there, but sadly it must be done. In Lochie and Mitch's cases, we already have a project ruckman for next year with Austin Bradtke.

5) We have three other players who are out of contract and may be moved on - Bugg, McKenna and Kent. 

And we have already lost one - Balic.

On top of that for the past 3 years, Tubby Taylor has barely had a chance to draft more than two speculative rookies, so he will be champing at the bit to get a go at doing what he's paid for.

Personally I'd be moving Keilty and Tim Smith on to the main list on one-year deals as back-ups and taking the full quota of rookies with Corey Wagner and Jay Lockhart among them.

As to rule changes, if they happen then the big winners will be Weid and Frosty and both are already contracted and I'd certainly be keeping them.

 

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Had Kent have been able to string together about 7 or 8 games with the output he was showing it might have been enough to keep him on as a depth player. Unfortunately and as its so often been the case in his career injuries have stuffed that right up for him.

I'd love to keep him on but I can see him looking for a new club I'm afraid.

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I'm still optimistic about Pat McKenna. A good mate of mine was involved with Gisborne FC when he was playing there and he swears by him as a gun talent. I have never seen him play, but my mate is a pretty good judge of football talent so his opinion carries weight with me.

I would be shattered if we don't give him one more year to see what he is made out of.

Edited by Adzman
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3 hours ago, MadAsHell said:

Plus with Lever coming back, we may go with three tall defenders which frees Hibberd up into Vince's role.

This is positive thinking; I'd see Frosty, Lever and last-leg Omac as the three and the release of Hibberd to the role that Vince plays currently (and/or Lewis) is a good move. The youngbloods from Casey can fit into a set framework as they develop and continue to compete for backline roles. 

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    THAT WAS THE YEAR THAT WAS by Whispering Jack

    Melbourne atoned for the heartbreak of its frustrating finish to the 2017 season by, at long last, making the finals and then disposed of two highly credentialed and experienced teams in Geelong and Hawthorn before it capitulated meekly to eventual premier West Coast in the Preliminary Final in Perth. The club’s progression has been forward and upward since it finished 2013 with two wins and appointed Paul Roos as coach. The number has increased to four, seven, 10, 12, and now 14 games. The Demons made the finals for the first time in a dozen years and are now tracking for their first premiership in five and a half decades.
     
    In the women’s game, the club’s second season of AFLW competition was dogged throughout by inaccuracy in front of goal causing it to again just miss out on grand final honours finishing third after losing 4.7.31 to 5.3.33 to rivals and eventual premiers, the Western Bulldogs in the final round. The Demons were well led by Daisy Pearce and had a star player in  Karen Paxman. They will miss their skipper Pearce, who will be out of the forthcoming season on maternity leave - a first for the womens competition. The Demons started their men’s campaign with a win in their section of the novelty AFLX competition, then won their two JLT  Community Series games against North Melbourne in Hobart and St Kilda at Casey Fields, the latter in unconvincing fashion after building a big lead early.  The opening round AFL match against Geelong resulted in a disappointing loss after a missed shot from Max Gawn in the final thirty seconds ceded a 3 point loss. The club won its next two matches, again unconvincingly although their round 3 win against North Melbourne broke a long run of defeats going back over more than a decade. A poor game against Hawthorn and a final term collapse on Anzac Day Eve against the Tigers had Melbourne down with a 2 - 3 record.  The revival began against Essendon and continued over the ensuing weeks as the Demons stretched their winning run to six games culminating with big wins against Carlton and Adelaide at Alice Springs and a solid victory over the Bulldogs. At the halfway mark of the season they were challenging for a top four spot on 8 wins and 3 defeats. The improvement had come from the return of injured pair Tom McDonald and Angus Brayshaw, the dominance of Max Gawn in the ruck and the strong form of Clayton Oliver and the young midfield. Jesse Hogan was consistently in the goals. Jake Lever who had taken a while to get his bearings but was solid during the six game winning spree sustained an ACL injury in round 11 and it took a while for the defence to recover from his loss, regroup and consolidate. In the interim, the experimentation in this area was partly the reason for a poor month that saw a  three-game losing streak including a disappointing loss to lowly St. Kilda. Earlier defeats to Collingwood on Queens Birthday and away to Port Adelaide might have been expected but the  loss to the Saints hit hard and possibly cost the team the coveted double chance.  Melbourne might have lost its star recruit, Lever, in midseason but the club did unearth two young players in Bailey Fritsch and Charlie Spargo who were both drafted in the 30s and established themselves as regulars for much of the year although they understandably ran out of steam a little at the end of the season. The Demons regrouped after the slump. The back line steadied when Sam Frost returned to help the improving Oscar McDonald in a key defensive role but, after returning to the winning list against the Dockers in Darwin and the Bulldogs at the MCG, they suffered some disappointing losses involving an after-the-siren goal to Zach Tuohy in the return game against Geelong and a home upset against   Sydney after some shocking inaccuracy in the first quarter and a half kept the Swans in the game. The injuries were mounting and the loss of Hogan at that point in time appeared devastating to a team that had yet to record a win against a top eight side. All that changed dramatically over the next four games starting with the Eagles in Perth and followed with a big win over the Giants that saw Melbourne finish in fifth place with a percentage of 131%. Then followed the emotion of a return to finals football and sound victories against seasoned playoff teams in Geelong and Hawthorn in front of crowds that gave majority support to the perennial underdog buoyed by the return from injury of co-skipper Jack Viney and the emergence at last of young key forward Sam Weideman who more than amply filled Hogan’s shoes.  Not for the first time in the modern history of the club, the wall was hit out west. The Demons looked spent in the early moments of their preliminary final in Perth against West Coast and much like last year’s lapse at the final hurdle against Collingwood, this one game is likely to inhabit the players’ collective memory over the summer and into the new season. Many players excelled and grew in 2018 and the depth of the club revealed itself when injuries struck. Max Gawn won the ‘Bluey’ Truscott’ medal and led an emerging midfield including the co-skippers Nathan Jones and Viney, a resurgent Angus Brayshaw (3rd in the Brownlow), Christian Petracca and Christian Salem and the incredibly improved James Harmes who stepped up several levels in the course of a season. The forward line was the best in the competition as many avenues were opened up to goals, breaking down only in that last final. The disappointment of that performance will surely act as a spur for even further improvement in 2019. That improvement is expected to come from a defence bolstered by the recruitment of former Gold Coast skipper Steven May and the expected return of Jake Lever in the first month or so of the season. They join some solid performers in defence including Michael Hibberd and the indefatigable Neville Jetta - a star both on and off the field. The Demons also picked up a handy defender from the Suns in Kade Kolodjashnij and a big ruck back up for All-Australian ruckman Gawn in Braydon Preuss. The club drafted a bevy of youngsters who will all take time to develop at Casey. Melbourne farewelled Jesse Hogan, Dom Tyson and Dean Kent to other clubs via trades and Tom Bugg found a new home through the draft. Former club champion Bernie Vince retired late in the season after a meritorious 100 game career at his second club. Vince will not be entirely lost to the Demons as he has returned to the club in a part-time leadership and ambassadorial role for 2019.  The loss that will hurt deeply is that of retiring CEO Peter Jackson who has overseen the six year progression from a team that won only two games in 2013 to become a preliminary finalist in 2018. Gary Pert has stepped into the breach to finish the task of leading the club to the promised land and a premiership.

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    DRAFT STORY: THE BYSTANDERS by Whispering Jack

    It was an eerie feeling, like floating on air high above the events taking place on the ground below. This was the New Draft, a two day festival of little importance to Melbourne supporters on the first night and seemingly, of little consequence on the following day. It was as if we were the bystanders of the 2018 AFL National Draft. From the time the Demons traded away their first round selection in this year’s event as part of the deal to secure Jake Lever more than 12 months ago, it was always likely to turn out this way. A little over a month ago, the club held picks 36, 46, 54, 62 and 65 which, once transposed into a world of potential priority picks and father-son and academy bidders, meant that its first choice would be pushing close to a pick near number fifty. It was akin to leaving you standing three city blocks away from Marvel Stadium and well outside the Jack Lukosious zone in draft night calculations. Even when the trades improved things somewhat marginally to a starting point of 23 and 28 (eventually 27 and 33), it meant you had just moved from William Street to King Street but the entrance to the venue was still on the distant horizon. It was probably just as well that we were that far away because opening night was excruciatingly painful, producing a clumsy and almost unwatchable production compared with the American counterparts in the NFL and NBA which it shamelessly sought to emulate. Gillon McLachlan produced a fitting highlight when he pounced onto centre stage only to discover he had nothing to announce despite the sounding of all the bells and whistles but for us - nothing. Not even the prospect of a live trade managed to keep us in the game.  When the show was over, Sam Walsh, the precocious Croweaters, the King brothers (we drafted the wrong big Max King a few years ago) and a bevy of others were gone. The Swans pulled a swifty trade to get a great deal for their next academy sensation and the Blues did nicely to steal the 2018 Morrish Medallist from the Tigers. Those who were previously uninformed of the new format were left baffled and confused that the Demons weren’t selecting on the night. By the rising of the sun on day two, we were virtually on the promenade at Marvel Stadium, hoping for a little action now that we were a matter of a few picks away from pole position. The AFL had sneakily changed the starting time from 10.00am to noon but even then we were hardly bashing down the doors to get in despite the dreary conditions outside. But when the draft restarted, we somehow remained the bystanders. The months (and for some, the years) of following potential draftees, the national championships, junior competitions, TAC Cup finals, draft combines, phantom drafts, power rankings, teams of the year and the late speculation all flashed past our eyes to produce ... on the face of it ... not a great deal. On top of that, there were no bolters, no All-Australian sliders who somehow mysteriously drifted into our laps, nor even any players finding their way to us from a list of so-called hidden gems” that was floating about. In the end, Melbourne took an inside midfielder in South Australian Tom Sparrow with pick 27 after making an unsuccessful bid for the Bulldog’s father-son prospect Rhylee West. Then came a real bolter in Oakleigh Charger James Jordon at 33, another South Australian, Aaron Nitschke, at 53 and a mature aged defender in Collingwood VFL’s Marty Hore with 56. If there was any icing on the cake, it came when the club was not required to bid for Next Generation Academy dasher Toby Bedford who was taken late at pick 75. The return to type came with the selection of Kade Chandler in the rookie draft. I should make it clear that this is not a criticism of the selection decisions but rather I’m pointing to the low profiles of those picked. As with any draft decision made, the proof of their value is never determined on the night but well down the track, often years into the future. The apparent left-of-centre approach to the draft may well pay dividends in the future for a club with a young team on the ascent  - the players selected are not shrinking violets. They are all aggressive ball-winners known for their relentless attack on the football. In that respect, none of them are bystanders.

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    THE KID - A TRIBUTE TO COLIN by Whispering Jack

    There are some truly endearing memories that I have of the Kid, one or two of them off the ground and others on the field of play. It seemed to me that at every club function I attended, one of the constants was the sight of the much-loved Colin Sylvia, face smiling and friendly, surrounded by admirers, young and old, male and female. There was the promotional clip (Foxtel, I think) with Colin in the locker room beside skipper David Neitz draped in towels and joking. It was as if, from the very beginning, the new boy on the block was being typecast as a larrikin, albeit a lovable one who, in our hopes, would one day  become a hero. And that was the problem for the recruit from Merbein which, during my childhood produced another star Demon in Hassa Mann, a shy country lad who went on to captain the club, played in a few premierships and was a solid citizen off the field. The new kid from Merbein simply kept getting into trouble.  There were problems with a girlfriend, he broke team curfews, missed the odd recovery session, left the scene of a car accident (it’s unclear if he was the driver). He was often in the wrong place and the wrong condition at the wrong time but we all still loved him. After all, he was going to be our hero. On the field, he was something else. The first time I saw him was in a practice match for Melbourne’s then affiliate Sandringham, at the Beach Road Oval, ironically named after another blond larrikan Trevor Barker who also passed at far too young and age but from cancer. There was one brief moment that defined Sylvia’s potential as a contender when he gathered the ball near the centre, swiveled past an opponent and barreled the ball from 70 metres out. Years later when I recalled that piece of play with him at a club best and fairest night, he laughed and said he remembered it but thought the kick was “from closer to 80 metres out”. It took a year or so to get his career going and it built slowly but surely within a few years during which time he grew in stature to the point that it wasn’t necessary to call him by his surname. He was Colin and we loved him. The tough break for Colin was that Melbourne went into decline just as he was approaching his prime. Most supporters would agree that his best game came on Sunday, 24 May, 2009 on the MCG in front of almost 40,000 fans against Hawthorn when he amassed 24 kicks, 13 handballs, 9 marks and 4 goals that were just not enough to get the Demons across the line.  He continued to play good football for the year despite the fact that the club was regularly accused of tanking its matches and again into 2010 but at around that time, the injuries in the form of groin and shoulder problems came, the team was performing miserably as the veterans left while other young saviours who were replacing them struggled. The contender was also struggling to live up to his potential status as a hero; he was failing and the fun had gone. After 157 games and 129 goals, the Kid departed for Fremantle at the end of 2013. Things didn’t work out in the West and, amid ongoing controversy about his attitude and behaviour under Ross Lyon, Colin managed six more games that were mostly unremarkable. Career over before his 29th birthday with life after football bringing further challenges for a young man who found retirement from the game at its top level a tough gig.  Colin was working to get his life on track when his car collided with another vehicle last Sunday afternoon at the intersection of Nineteenth Street and Benetook Avenue in the Mildura suburb of Irymple. He died on the scene and will be buried today. We loved him to death - our deepest sympathies go to his family. “I'm the kid who has this habit of dreaming
    Sometimes gets me in trouble too
    But the truth is I could no more stop dreaming
    Than I could make them all come true” - Buddy Mondlock  

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    THE TRADING CHRONICLES 2018 by Whispering Jack

    PART TWO - NO CHOICE There was a time before he even played a single game at AFL level that Jesse Hogan was regarded as the player who would lift Melbourne from the bottom of the ladder. He’s been at the club since he was selected in the 2012 mini-draft but circumstances caused him to wait two seasons before making his AFL debut. He achieved Rising Star status in 2015, kicked more than 40 goals in three of his four seasons, had his disappointments with injuries, illness and personal issues with the loss of his father and yet, Hogan the Saviour seemed forever absent for the club’s most triumphant moments.  Hogan is now a Docker after the Demons traded him for national draft picks 6 and 23 on the final day of the AFL's trade period. This is despite the fact that he was contracted to Melbourne for 2019 and would have earned good money. There’s no doubting his quality as a footballer but he wanted to go home and the likelihood remained high that he might be gone after another season filled with unwelcome distractions of an uncertain future at the club. And not for the first time. When expectations are high for the future after making it to a Preliminary Final, full commitment to the cause beyond the now is paramount. In the end, there was no choice. Moving on to the future, the three players introduced to the Melbourne Football Club  have the attributes of commitment, willingness to work hard and the ability to fill needs. Former Gold Coast co-captain Steven May, a hard-at-it defender has a five year contract. The skillful Kade Kolodjashnij who brings run and carry to the table and mature ruckman Braydon Preuss both join the club with three year deals.  There is no certainty in the business of sport but Melbourne appears to have done well in a trade period that also saw it upgrade its draft position to a point where it now has two picks in the 20s. There is still a lot to do at the draft table, some rookie upgrades and possible acquisition of delisted free agents to fill the eight vacant places on the club’s lists. Where does this all leave the Melbourne Football Club? Age journalist Peter Ryan summed up the Demons’ trade period in At a glance: Assessing each club's 2018 AFL trade period when he wrote  “At a glance: Going for the flag”. Of course, it’s too early to make a reasoned analysis of the trade period because the outcome is never determined in the moment. Time will tell for all clubs and in 2018 there were so many different agendas and strategies. There were clubs that used it to dump the burden of high salaries, some wanted better draft position while others aimed to fulfill certain needs. In the end 42 players changed clubs by way of trades but by draft time at the end of November, there will be many more new faces at every club. The completed trades - Trade Tracker

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    THE TRADING CHRONICLES 2018 by Whispering Jack

    PART ONE - BETWEEN RUCKS AND HARD PLACES Melbourne has been rather pragmatic in its approach to the off season Free Agency and Trade period. After methodically releasing a larger than usual number of players through delistings, it has also traded away a couple of others who it clearly regards as being surplus to the requirements of team focused on a top four finish in 2019 and to this date, acquired a big ruckman to accompany its All Australian Max Gawn in that campaign. The Demons’ lists have undergone a major refit since the final siren sounded on Preliminary Final day. At that point, we knew of the retirements of Harley Balic and Bernie Vince and soon after the announcements came of Tom Bugg, Dion Johnstone, Mitch King, Pat McKenna and Cam Pedersen and rookie Lachie Filipovic. On Friday, the trades of Dean Kent (to St Kilda) and Dom Tyson (North Melbourne) were signed off, bringing the number of departures to double figures.  The Kangaroos traded Brayden Preuss to the Demons to give Melbourne the competition’s most potent ruck combination.  If things were going well for Melbourne’s football manager Josh Mahoney, they certainly went sour with the news late on Friday that Fremantle had withdrawn its interest in securing forward Jesse Hogan by way of a trade. The decision threw the Demons’ plans of securing Gold Coast defender Steven May along with a raft of other potential trades depending on the outcome of those deals. The Dockers have been chasing WA native Hogan for some four years and last week they paraded him through their headquarters. After it was announced that Hogan had passed his medical, it was thought to be a formality that a trade would be arranged after the obligatory bargaining period.  Fremantle General Manager of Football, Peter Bell, just two weeks into the job, announced - “We have been undertaking a due diligence process as part of a possible trade to secure Jesse Hogan. “As part of that process, we have had discussions with Jesse, the player’s management and Melbourne. “While discussions were proceeding it became clear that what Melbourne would be seeking for a trade would not be possible for our club to meet. “As such, we have informed Melbourne and Jesse’s management that we will not be continuing further with the due diligence process.” This was Bell’s reaction to Melbourne’s refusal to accept his club’s offer of National Draft Pick 11 and a future second-round pick with the Demons expecting two early selections including # 5 that the Dockers would be expecting in a deal with Brisbane for Lachie Neale (Bell is reportedly expecting two first round picks). The reaction might have come as a surprise but it needs to be looked at in the context of what is happening at the very top at the Fremantle Football Club. In August, its list manager Brad Lloyd departed for Carlton and the task of dealing with the free agency and trading was taken over by CEO Steve Rosich in concert with Bell after his appointment. They are certainly doing things differently in a trade period during which all of the other clubs have been businesslike in their approach — the Freo pair’s dealings over Hogan, Rory Lobb, Neale and a clumsy approach to Geelong’s Tim Kelly who wants to go to the Eagles have raised scorn and disdain throughout the football fraternity and their own fans aren’t happy either! This has left Hogan back with the Demons for the time being as he plays out the final year of his contract in 2019 (unless the Dockers have a change of heart in the next few days). Mahoney has made it clear that the club is not in a position to follow up a trade for May without completing a deal for Hogan.  The bonus for the club however, is that it can go into the pre season with a quality key position forward approaching the prime of his career while the team is in the premiership window. Meanwhile, at the other end of the continent, the Dockers are likely to languish, living with a dysfunctional recruiting structure and scorned by the rest of the football community. Good luck with that! Docker shocker as Freo pull pin on Hogan pursuit This is the full list of trades after five days: • Reece Conca joined Fremantle as a free agent. The Tigers don't get any compensation.
    • Richmond signed Tom Lynch as a restricted free agent. Gold Coast opted not to match the offer. The Suns got pick No.3 as compensation.
    • Luke Dahlhaus joined Geelong as an unrestricted free agent. The Western Bulldogs got a round two pick as compensation (No.27).
    • Scott Lycett joined Port Adelaide as a restricted free agent after the Eagles decided not to match Port's offer. Port got pick 20 as compensation.
    • The Cats traded Lincoln McCarthy, pick 55 and pick 58 to the Lions. In return, the Lions sent over picks 43 and 61.
    • Richmond sent Corey Ellis, Anthony Miles and a future third round pick to the Suns for a future third round pick.
    • The Blues used one of their special assistant pre-draft picks to send Nathan Kreuger to Geelong in exchange for pick 43.
    • The Lions and the Suns did a pick swap. Brisbane ended up with 32, 41, 44 and 77. Gold Coast got 24, 58 and 79.
    • Mitch McGovern and a future third round pick made their way from Adelaide to Carlton. Carlton sent back Shane McAdam (their second pre-draft special assistance pick) and a future fifth round pick.
    • Sydney sent pick 13 to the Crows. In return, they got pick 40. They also got picks 26 and 28 from Carlton.
    • Jared Polec and Jasper Pittard moved to North Melbourne from Port Adelaide. Also sent over: pick 48. In return, Power received pick 11 and a future fourth round pick.
    • Sydney's Gary Rohan was traded to Geelong for pick 61.
    • The Swans sent pick 61 to North Melbourne in exchange for Ryan Clarke.
    • St Kilda traded Tom Hickey, pick 60 and a future fourth rounder to the Eagles. In return, the Saints got pick 39 and a future fourth round pick.
    • Alex Fasolo joined Carlton as an unrestricted free agent. Collingwood got pick 57 as compensation.
    • Gold Coast signed Josh Corbett (Werribee) and Chris Burgess ( West Adelaide) as two of their special assistance picks.
    • Port Adelaide and Fremantle swapped picks: Power got pick six and a future third round selection, and sent picks 11, 23, 30 and 49 to the Dockers.
    • Sydney Swans have traded Dan Hannebery and its Rd 2 selection, currently number 28 (on traded from Carlton) to St Kilda for its Rd 2 selection, currently selection number 39 (on traded from West Coast), and its Future Round Two Selection.
    • Melbourne have traded Dean Kent to St Kilda for its Rd 4 selection, currently selection number 65.
    • Melbourne have traded Dom Tyson to North Melbourne for Brayden Preuss and its Rd 4 selection, currently selection number 62 (on traded from the Sydney Swans).
    • GWS Giants have traded Will Setterfield and its Rd 4 (71), to Carlton for its Rd 3 (43), and Future Round Two Selection.

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    CHANGES 2018 by The Oracle

    PART 1 - UPHEAVAL AND CHANGE Every year, as soon as the grand final siren sounds, the 18 AFL clubs enter into a new season that lasts for two months and ends in the drafts. This is the time of transition and sometimes upheaval for the clubs as their lists change in the hope for each of them that they can regenerate their lists to the point where they can challenge for a premiership flag. The official proceedings start today with the opening of the restricted free agency offer and unrestricted free agency period starts and on Monday, the NAB AFL Trade Period kicks off. The coming off season of change is looming large at the Melbourne Football Club in comparison with last year when the club farewelled only six senior list players (including one, Heritier Lumumba, who had retired before that season even began) and one rookie. Their replacements came via trades and the draft, leaving the 2018 Melbourne Football Club player list (with new players in italics) as follows - PRIMARY LIST: Oskar Baker Harley Balic Angus Brayshaw Tomas Bugg Bayley Fritsch Sam Frost Jeff Garlett Max Gawn Mitch Hannan James Harmes Michael Hibberd Jesse Hogan Jayden Hunt Neville Jetta Dion Johnstone Nathan Jones Jay Kennedy Harris Dean Kent Mitch King Jake Lever Jordan Lewis Oscar McDonald Tom McDonald Pat McKenna Jake Melksham Alex Neal-Bullen Clayton Oliver Cameron Pedersen Christian Petracca Harrison Petty Christian Salem Charlie Spargo Joel Smith Billy Stretch Dom Tyson Aaron vandenBerg Bernie Vince Jack Viney Josh Wagner Sam Weideman  ROOKIE LIST: CATEGORY A Lachlan Filipovic Declan Keilty Corey Maynard Tim Smith  As in the past, the process has been going on for months and even longer in the case of the assessment of younger talent. The 18 clubs have all been working feverishly looking for potential trades and for which some players on their lists are moved on.  The Demons have already added two Category B rookies who will shortly commence their apprenticeships at the club. The changes were being foreshadowed even before season’s end when two Demons - Harley Balic and Bernie Vince - had also announced their retirements.  The floodgates were opened almost as soon as the final siren sounded at Optus Stadium on Preliminary Final day. The first delistings included Tom Bugg, Mitch King, Pat McKenna and Cam Pedersen, who announced his retirement, and rookie Lachie Filipovic. Yesterday, Dion Johnstone was added to that group.  Then there are those being mentioned in despatches as being on the trade table from Dean Kent who almost has his foot in the door at St Kilda, to Jesse Hogan, seemingly bound for Fremantle delisted) and others such as Dom Tyson and Aaron vandenBerg said to be exploring options for various reasons. This means a potential of a dozen new faces including names such as May, Kolodjashnij, Preuss and many more in the club’s new period of upheaval and change ...

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    HEARTBREAK WEEKEND by KC from Casey

    The Casey Demons led the 2018 Grand Final from the beginning until the 13 minute mark of the final quarter of the VFL Grand Final at Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon but were overrun in the finish by the Box Hill Hawks. The defeat was the team’s second in a season-decider in three seasons and marked yet another heartbreaking climax to a year of many highlights for the club. The Demons had opened the game in promising fashion moving the ball with great speed and converted four times to take a 25 point lead in the early going. They were ferocious with their tackling with 20 in the first term alone and by half time had shown up the effort of their senior counterparts by exceeding their total tally of tackles from the day before. Casey dominated proceedings in most facets of the game for almost all of the opening half but some crucial shots at goal from easy range. One of the few statistics where they were bested was the free kick count - one of the factors that seemed to keep the Hawks in the game. When the siren sounded to signal the start of the long break the Demons led by 23 points but an after-the-siren goal to Box Hill reduced the lead and gave the Hawks great hope leading into the final half.  The rejuvenated Hawks lifted their game after the break and they gradually clawed back at Casey’s lead, assisted by their complete dominance in the ruck where they smashed the undersized Casey ruck division through the agency of Pittonet who amassed an enormous 57 hit outs and took 7 big marks. This division has been problematic for the Demons all season and was exacerbated of late by the poor form of Mitch King who was not selected for the finals and the injury to young Lachie Filipovic. In their stead, Cam Pedersen, Tim Smith and Mykelti Lefau who were gallant in the preliminary final, simply struggled this week. And so, when it came to the final term of the biggest match of the season, Casey faltered and was unable to produce one of those stirring finishes that got it through a number of the 12 consecutive victories of earlier in the season. Some of its name players were unable to produce: there were far too many passengers and a number will no doubt be forced to look elsewhere in 2019. Bayley Fritsch was an exception. He provided plenty of run off the back line and showed great application and heart to prove the judgement of the senior Demon selection panel off key when they omitted him from the team that went to Perth.  The defensive work of Declan Keilty and Harry Petty was excellent in the first half and both have potential as key position defenders. Bernie Vince was solid and creative in his swan song game and Tom Bugg worked hard for four quarters.  The Casey listed crew were mainly underwhelming. Corey Wagner worked hard as did Jay Lockhart while Jimmy Munro tackled strongly as usual.  Unfortunately, they weren’t as effective or consistent as they have been for most of the season.  The scoreboard when the final siren sounded heralded yet another disappointment in the Demons’ Heartbreak Weekend. There’s always next year. Peter Jackson VFL 2018 Casey Demons 4.4.28 5.9.39 8.11.59 8.14.62 Box Hill Hawks 1.1.7 3.4.22 7.8.50 10.12.72 Goals   Casey Demons Bugg Kennedy-Harris Lefau Lockhart Machaya Pedersen Scott T Smith  Box Hill Hawks Moore 3 Jones Hanrahan Lovell  Moore O'Brien O'Rourke Ross  Best Casey Demons Fritsch C Wagner Petty Keilty Vince Bugg Box Hill Hawks Mirra Moore Pittonet Hanrahan Cousins O'Brien Statistics  Tomas Bugg 1 goal 15 kicks 9 handballs 24 disposals 5 marks 7 tackles 114 dream team points
    Tom Freeman 10 kicks 4 handballs 14 disposals 4 marks 4 tackles 67 dream team points
    Bayley Fritsch 1 behind 13 kicks 7 handballs 20 disposals 8 marks 1 tackle 83 dream team points
    Jeffrey Garlett 1 behind 3 kicks 2 handballs 5 disposals 2 marks 3 tackles 27 dream team points
    Mitch Gent 4 kicks 4 handballs 8 disposals 1 mark 3 tackles 36 dream team points
    Jayden Hunt 7 kicks 5 handballs 12 disposals 4 marks 3 tackles 33 dream team points
    Jack Hutchins 2 kicks 3 handballs 5 disposals 2 marks 1 tackle 22 dream team points   
    Declan Keilty 7 kicks 6 handballs 13 disposals 3 marks 5 tackles 53 dream team points
    Jay Kennedy Harris 1 goals 1 behind 13 kicks 5 handballs 18 disposals 3 marks 6 tackles 89 dream team points
    Mykelti Lefau 1 goal 4  kicks 2  handballs 6 disposals 4 marks 1 tackles 6 hit outs 32 dream team points
    Jay Lockhart 1 goals 1 behind 10 kicks 3 handballs 13 disposals 4 marks 3 tackles 61 dream team points 
    Pat McKenna 1 behind 2 kicks 1 handball 3 disposals 1 mark 1 tackle 17 dream team points
    Cory Machaya 1 goal 1 behind 5 kicks 5 handballs 10 disposals 5 marks 3 tackles 53 dream team points
    James Munro 1 behind 5 kicks 6 handballs 11 disposals 2 marks 12 tackles 78 dream team points
    Cameron Pedersen 1 goal 7 kicks 3 handballs 10 disposals 4 marks 5 tackles 12 hit outs 72 dream team points
    Harry Petty 5 kicks 7 handballs 12 disposals 5 marks 42 dream team points
    Angus Scott 1 goal 6 kicks 3 handballs 9 disposals 5 marks 4 tackles 62 dream team points
    Tim Smith 1 goals 1 behind 11 kicks 5 handballs 16 disposals 4 marks 7 tackles 6 hit outs 95 dream team points
    Cory Stockdale 2 kicks 1 handballs 3 disposals 2 tackles 10 dream team points
    Bernie Vince 3 behinds 18 kicks 1 handballs 19 disposals 4 marks 7 tackles 99 dream team points
    Corey Wagner 1 behind 15 kicks 6 handballs 21 disposals 2 marks 7 tackles 87 dream team points
    Josh Wagner 8 kicks 6 handballs 14 disposals 4 marks 3 tackles 61 dream team points
    Mitch White 9 kicks 5 handballs 14 disposals 4 marks 3 tackles 59 dream team points  

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    NO CONTEST by George on The Outer

    This was the first finals series the Melbourne Football Club has participated in a dozen years and its first Preliminary Final for 18. The club got here in 2018 because it built its reputation on contest, but in the end the game against West Coast was no contest as the Eagles ran out winners by over ten goals. The match itself was really over by quarter time, as the young Demons were simply swamped by a side that was bigger, stronger and ultimately had more intent on achieving its goal.  The game, while disappointing from an outcome perspective, should motivate the Demons in the same way that the Round 22 match against Collingwood did last year.  It was what finals football was all about and while they had performed admirably in winning their past 2 matches to progress to the Preliminary, this was when things got serious.   Melbourne was exposed in the same way that Richmond was exposed on Friday night because, to get into the Big Dance, you cannot afford to come into any game half-hearted, injured or with stop gap players. Right from the start the Demons were in trouble, with errant handballs and players slipping constantly at critical moments. While West Coast scored four goals to zip in the first quarter, three of those came directly from Melbourne turnovers. Coupled with some undisciplined acts from Jordan Lewis, the momentum that a young team relied upon to forge forward was completely and utterly deflated.   It didn’t get any better in the second quarter and by half time the Eagles held a ten goal lead, which was to be the final margin. The coach would have been fuming as he watched Melbourne revert to the old style of play of standing back and expecting others to do the work. I heard it mentioned that the Demons had only three tackles to ¼ time and a paltry 30 odd for the whole game - a poor result from a side that prides itself on contest. 
     
    Statistics lovers would think Angus Brayshaw played a good game.  But stumbles, fumbles and miskicks don’t get recorded.  The stat which did get recorded was the eight clangers. The fact that he wasn’t on the ground for a majority of the third term indicates that something was wrong with him, and his grunt and surety was missed, despite the numbers.   All around the ground, we were seeing structures which were not what had been seen in past weeks or months.  Tom McDonald was playing back, Aaron vndenBerg almost full time in the middle, Joel Smith supposedly selected as a backman spent most of the game forward.  When players are being thrown around like this, it can only mean that an attempt is being made to fill gaps.   The result is the was little in the way of forward structure, but then the ball didn’t get down there until the second half of the game, and even then there was no genuine marking target.  How we would have relished Jesse Hogan in front of goal - perhaps next year? The mids were simply destroyed, not from the clearances, but by the outside run which enabled them to deliver cleanly to their forwards in Darling, Kennedy, Cripps and LeCras.  As mentioned last week, when we have Jones and Tyson on the wing, there is no run for us, but importantly, they cannot keep up with the opposition.  Then with Alex Neal-Bullen able to just hit 50% disposal efficiency, it showed that even when we had the ball, we simply butchered it. The forwards had a shocker of a day as well.  Without T McDonald there to provide a target for good parts of the game, the likes of Melksham, Hannan and Spargo rarely had a viable touch, with all of them barely into double figure disposals. Sam Weideman reverted to being unable to hold a mark this week, and Christian Petracca kept trying to give the ball off to others when inside 30m himself. His set shots were nothing to behold again.  Plenty of work needs to be done for him in this area over summer.  The backs were overwhelmed by the amount of ball coming in, but the lack of composure was telling, especially compared with their work-rate last week.  Sadly, Oscar McDonald and Michael Hibberd failed to effect a single tackle, Sam Frost, Lewis and Christian Salem one each. Neville Jetta at least had three.  The mids weren’t much better and their numbers were mostly twos and threes. Overall there were seven players who didn’t lay a single tackle in the game. Simply not good enough in any game, let alone a Preliminary Final. Can the Demons learn from this game?  The coach has already indicated that contest is king and that is particularly the case in Finals, especially when you get to the pointy end. The fans can be proud and happy with the performance during the season, and have seen the results following years of promises and nothing to show but there has to be more. And there is much more improvement to come, simply because the majority of this group is still young. They came up against a side on its home turf which played in a Grand Final just three years ago, finished the home and away  season in second spot and were handed (and took) the initiative in the first ten minutes of the game. They deserve to be Grand Finalists again this year, but we must learn to perform to the standard required to get to the final stage, that they displayed in this game ... an in particular, to always provide a contest. I just can’t wait for the cricket and tennis to be over ...
     
    Melbourne 0.3.3 0.6.6 5.9.39 7.13.55 West Coast Eagles 4.8.32 10.9.69 15.10.100 18.13.121 Goals  Melbourne Melksham 2 Hannan Harmes Oliver  J Smith Weideman West Coast Eagles Kennedy 4 Cripps Darling LeCras 3, Hutchings Redden Rioli Ryan Venables Best  Melbourne Harmes Oliver vandenBerg Petracca J Smith Viney  West Coast Eagles Kennedy Redden Cripps Hurn McGovern Sheed LeCras Injuries  Melbourne Nil  West Coast Eagles Nil Reports Melbourne Nil  West Coast Eagles Nil Umpires Nicholls, Meredith, Chamberlain  Official crowd 59,608 at Optus Stadium

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