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DEVIL OF A TIME - Match Preview and Team Selection

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DEVIL OF A TIME by Whispering Jack

The keynote speaker at last night's annual Devil's Advocates dinner was former Demon champion David Schwarz. Most of us know of his exploits on the field in his playing days and how he overcame adversity and the depths of three knee reconstructions to win a club best and fairest and play in a grand final and many would also be aware of how, with the help of his wife, he overcame a gambling addiction that sent him broke and even had him in the grip of criminal elements. Listening to him speak mainly of the latter and of his determination to repay his debts and to resurrect his life reminded me very much of the task his former club now faces to regain its rightful position among other clubs and the message is that the situation is not hopeless.

The same story was reinforced by the other speakers starting with club chairman Glen Bartlett who started in football in Western Australia, who suffered a ruptured kidney playing in the WAFL in 1985 and recovered to make it all the way to the Eagles' inaugural list. Bartlett had a similar injury to that of GWS' Phil Davis who recently contacted him to discuss ways of overcoming this serious ailment.

Bartlett's AFL career was brief - he was delisted after one year of his three year contract but took on the club in the industrial relations system to successfully win compensation but not reinstatement. He bounced back to have a good enough WAFL career that he was drafted by Brisbane. Later, he found his way to Melbourne and a top legal firm. He says he is at the club for the long haul if the members will have him and describes this journey as one that requires us to keep the faith. He reflects that the club has come a long way off the field in a short time in terms of building new partnerships with sponsors, acquiring new football staff including coaches and the players recruited over the off season. We now need to show resilience, courage and patience. Despite the early setbacks, there are a lot of positives about the club and Bartlett is confident we're on the right track.

One of the new coaches is George Stone whose record at one stage was six premierships in nine seasons as an assistant at successful clubs in Hawthorn and Sydney. He told of how he started as a runner to the legendary "Yabby" Jeans who once likened the role of runner to a piano player in a brothel. "Son, you're where the action is, but you're not really a part of it".

Like the other speakers, Stone expressed confidence in Paul Roos' ability to turn things around, the club's current situation with its lack of forwards will change and players will learn and develop. The club is starting with a blank canvas and Stone is confident that we will see progress over time. When asked whether Roos would have drafted Buddy Franklin were he still at Sydney, he said probably not because of Roos' emphasis on team play and not individuality. It's good teams that win premierships and he that this can be fulfilled at Melbourne but not without a lot of hard work and an ounce of luck.

Auctioneer Phil Kingston of Gary Peer & Associates, a loyal Demon fan and a top operator in the south eastern suburbs emphasised the message of the speakers but added that money was important as well as all of the other things that had been spoken about on the night. He proceeded to auction a number of items including a magnificent framed picture of the 1956 premiership team and his efforts helped make the night a financial success.

Considering the week the club has gone through, the turnout for the evening was great. Demon fans from various areas of the legal system were on hand - judges, barristers, solicitors, court personnel and academics were all on hand. One of the guests was human rights commissioner, Tim Wilson. Board member John Trotter was there as were former club chairman Paul Gardner, former board members Karen Hayes and Michael Givoni, barrister Bob Miller who played in the 60s and of course Bev O'Connor who brightened up the evening with a sterling job as master of ceremonies. Chris Dawes, the grandson of the late Chief Justice Sir John Young was there (I think he might be back earlier than some reports this week have suggested) along with Michael "Pickles" Evans, a law student who has also overcome some major injury woes himself and is on the cusp of selection into the Melbourne team.


And there we have it ... a night where the theme was one of coming back from adversity. The Ox's story of starting out as a 15 year old Hawthorn fan training with the Under 19s (he was still a member of the Hawks' cheer squad when he made his senior debut at 18), speaking of his appreciation for the Melbourne Football Club which helped him escape from the ordinary life of Sunbury to an AFL career, to the lows of a gambling addiction and the help of his wife, friends and his contacts at Melbourne which helped him rise to overcome his hardships, repay his debts and take a place in society with a family, a home and in a far better place than the one which he once occupied. The narrative is one of recovery through determination and hard effort and is the very story we hope to relive at the Melbourne Football Club in the near future.

Thanks to Devil's Advocates convenor Ralph Glezer for putting the night together again and for all those who contributed and showed that their is a way out of the despair of last Sunday's loss.

It's now up to the coaches and the players to get it done on the field.

Reubev.jpg

Two former MFC Board Members taking in the atmosphere at last night's Devil's Advocate Dinner

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THE GAME

GWS Giants v Melbourne at Spotless Stadium Sunday 6 April, 2014 at 1.10 pm

HEAD TO HEAD

Overall GWS Giants 1 win Melbourne 3 wins

At Spotless Stadium GWS Giants 1 win Melbourne 0 wins

Past five years GWS Giants 1 win Melbourne 3 wins

The Coaches Cameron 0 wins Roos 0 wins

MEDIA

TV - Fox Footy Channel at 1.00 pm (live)

RADIO - MMM 3AW SEN ABC ABC Grandstand

THE BETTING

GWS Giants to win - $1.30 Melbourne to win - $3.55

THE LAST TIME THEY MET

GWS Giants 19.10.124 defeated Melbourne 12.15.87

This was Melbourne's ultimate day of shame among many for the club in 2013. The previously winless Giants ran the Demons ragged in a game in which only Nathan Jones looked adequate in the role of an AFL footballer.

THE TEAMS

GWS GIANTS

B: Nick Haynes, Sam Frost, Curtly Hampton

HB: Heath Shaw, Lachlan Plowman, Adam Kennedy

C: Toby Greene, Adam Treloar, Tom Scully

HF: Jacob Townsend, Jeremy Cameron, Dylan Addison

F: Devon Smith, Jonathan Giles, Jonathan Patton

Foll: Shane Mumford, Stephen Coniglio, Callan Ward

I/C: Tomas Bugg, Will Hoskin-Elliott, Josh Hunt, Josh Kelly

EMG: Jed Lamb, Adam Tomlinson, Zachary Williams

In: Will Hoskin-Elliot

Out: Lachlan Whitfield (Inj)

MELBOURNE

B: Alex Georgiou, James Frawley, Lynden Dunn

HB: Jack Grimes, Tom McDonald, Dean Terlich

C: Daniel Cross, Bernie Vince, Jack Watts

HF: Matt Jones, Jack Fitzpatrick, Jack Viney

F: Jeremy Howe, Cam Pedersen, Rohan Bail

FOLL: Jake Spencer, Nathan Jones, Dom Tyson

I/C: Shannon Byrnes, Michael Evans, Jay Kennedy-Harris, Dean Kent

EMG: Dom Barry, Sam Blease, Jack Trengove

IN: Michael Evans, Dean Kent, Jack Viney

OUT: Viv Michie, Jimmy Toumpas, Jack Trengove

INSIDE OUT

It would seem that if you want to properly preview a match involving the Demons then you need to know all about the club from inside out. The complexities of a playing group that has been whacked around the park, hit by injuries and publicly whipped by a series of media feeding frenzies are breathtaking in their scope but it's not hard to fathom why this team performs as it does or to figure out that it doesn't take much to push this team past the tipping point.

"I knew".

That was the simple response I got from Supporter X who I met this week and who, a month ago on the weekend after Melbourne's relatively respectable loss to Geelong, told me that the club was in for far greater pain this year than last.

Supporter X is one of those negative types for whom the world is always ending tomorrow. He says that he knew back then that the injuries to the club's talls were more serious than the official version, that Mitch Clark's problems ran deeper than ongoing soft tissue injuries in the wake of his recovery from the Lisfranc injury and that certain players are not as particularly committed to the cause as we would like. Whether he had inside information or was guessing, the team's insipid performance from the get go last week allowed him to command the bragging rights of the day.

Still, it's not that difficult to work out because Melbourne has developed a formidable track record of total collapse under pressure (and even sometimes not under pressure) in recent times. I heard one alarming statistic during the week that in the period from 2007 to the present Melbourne has lost 21 games by 75 points or more - a figure that tells a disastrous story and a tale that covers the tenure of a number of coaches (including a few fill ins and now the incumbent). This makes last week's walloping part of a long series of telling blows to the psyche, startling with the year of the coaching demise of Neale Daniher to Dean Bailey's opening couple of games to his last, through Mark Neeld's many lows, to the day at Etihad last year when North Melbourne carried out the ritual slaughter of a team that had shown signs of improvement for a few weeks under Neil Craig. And now, round 2 of last week.

You have to ask yourself what is wrong with this lot that they are so week, mentally and physically and perhaps morally judging by the lack of apparent effort and desire to chase just four minutes into the game as was demonstrated last week?

This is the enormity of the challenge that faces coach Paul Roos who promised something different this week. He could easily have axed ten players for this week's game but only dropped three. He foreshadowed a number of positional changes and one suspects that he will need to deliver if he is to turn things around against a young enthusiastic GWS Giants who start Sunday's game at Spotless Stadium with the rare distinction for that club of being the firm favourite after beating the Swans at the same venue in round 1 and missing out narrowly last week to the Saints.

The three players who were dropped were among quite a few who ran as slowly as treacle last week and they have been replaced with a trio of youngsters who all have a pulse - Michael Evans, Dean Kent and Jack Viney. In the case of the latter, he has the same take no prisoner attitude as co-skipper Nathan Jones and while it's unfair that you need to rely on a 19 year old to set an example of courage, toughness and sheer mongrel, this kid has it. If only that attitude could rub off on the rest of the group, this game would be a cakewalk.

There's no doubt that Melbourne's midfield is well on the way to being fixed with the advent of Bernie Vince, Dom Tyson and Daniel Cross to join Nathan Jones and Viney. The problem is the forward line and the question of who Roos throws into the mix up there. One thing for sure is that it can't be left vacant as it has been in the opening two rounds that have yielded an aggregate of 81 points which is barely enough to eclipse Hawthorn's half time score against last year's runners up Fremantle.

The big if is whether Roos' promised changed forward set up can generate scoring opportunities that become goals and not missed points or failures to convert as has been the norm over the past fortnight. No more fumbles, no more turnovers and some more direct football would be nice.

Despite the humiliation of last week, I still have a glimmer of hope for this lot, mainly because of the belief I have in Paul Roos, his band of assistants and those working in the background at the club.

I think back to George Stone's recounting of the story of the piano player in the brothel from this week's Devil's Advocates Dinner and wonder if and when the Demons will become part of the action action again.

Something tells me that even if he doesn't turn the team inside out, Roos' action in the form of the changes made at selection and on the field might just do the trick for this week at least.

Melbourne by 1 point.

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You should try to get my brother Dr Tony Fleming along to one of your shindigs... head of Australia's Antarctic Division and a keen Dees supporter.

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You should try to get my brother Dr Tony Fleming along to one of your shindigs... head of Australia's Antarctic Division and a keen Dees supporter.

I'll take a moment first to gobble up all the low-hanging fruit on that;

"Demon's results headed south"

"Supporter forum gets chilly reception"

"Demon's gone cold early in the season"

"Melbourne fans dreaming of end to endless night"

"Demon forwards kept on ice"

Right, glad I got that out of my system.

Also, thanks for the report Whispering Jack. Really good to hear that former board members are not keeping their distance from the club, and I like your hints at, let's call it 'moderately positive' news regarding Dawes. Touch wood. Or titanium rod inserts. The latter seem more common around our forward line lately!

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Reckon Mitchie is a bit stiff.

From Matt Burgan. Changes had to be made to the team and with Viney back in the mix, a midfielder probably had to make way. Viv has showed some really good form in the NAB Challenge, but was a bit quieter last week. He had 10 touches, so I guess on the back of a 93-point loss, the mix needed to change. I'm sure he'll be back soon enough - remember he's only played three AFL matches - and has a very good future ahead of him. Matt.

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what are the chances they'd actually drop trengove?

0.03 % ??

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what are the chances they'd actually drop trengove?

0.03 % ??

He should have been playing at Casey a lot in 2013 and this week TLE

In any one of the top 16 sides he would be.

Edited by old dee
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Tim Wilson is a Demons supporter?

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gee what a surprise no Garland, Jamar or Gawn

another smashing

Can someone tell me - what is the situation with Gawn?

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The final team will be very interesting. I don't expect Barry to be included, but who of Kennedy-Harris, Kent, Byrnes, Trengove, Evans and Blease will make the final 22?

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Can someone tell me - what is the situation with Gawn?

Hi Michael, Max didn't play last weekend because of a hamstring niggle and he's on the cusp of playing this weekend. He'll have to do a fitness test tomorrow. He's been listed as a test this week. Matt.

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The final team will be very interesting. I don't expect Barry to be included, but who of Kennedy-Harris, Kent, Byrnes, Trengove, Evans and Blease will make the final 22?

I'm hoping Evans.

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If the all star combination of Fitzy and Pedersen with support from either Howe or Dunn are ever going to do something it would be against Frost, Haynes and Plowman. Devon Smith is a serious player and very dangerous, he's one to look out for the same as the 3 big guys they'll have down there. Hopefully whatever niggle that kept Cameron quiet against St Kilda persists.

Callan Ward is a gun, I think we stick Cross on him at the contests. Coniglio and Treloar aren't kids anymore and are serious players and Toby Greene is great at finding the ball hopefully he's in a mood where he likes to give it back. Good test for Tyson, Jones, Viney, Vince and co to serve it up to that lot.

Spencer has to use his fitness and speed to give Mumford something to chase to tire him out. Otherwise Mummy will maul the Pencil.

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Reckon Mitchie is a bit stiff.

With due respect I thought he was poor last week and deserved to be dropped. He was only marginally better in rd 1.

M jones is a little lucky but he did play well in rd 1.

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I would advocate dropping Trenners but I don't think it'll happen. The bench I would go for is: Byrnes (has kicked our few goals), Kent (kicked 3 against them last year), Blease (has earned a spot IMO), Trengove (it's time for him to stand up, if he doesn't perform this round no doubt in my mind he should be dropped). Blease to be the sub, and he must be encouraged to use his speed.

Good to see a Viney back, we all know what he adds but I expect he won't be dominating for a couple of weeks, still I'm very excited to see him and Tyson combining.

EDIT: want to add that JKH gets a full game at the VFL rather than playing as the sub. Hasn't done anything wrong but I reckon it's better for his development. The other school of thought would be he's playing against kids in GWS but watching them in round one they are no longer just kids.

Edited by Pates

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The final team will be very interesting. I don't expect Barry to be included, but who of Kennedy-Harris, Kent, Byrnes, Trengove, Evans and Blease will make the final 22?

Kennedy-Harris must start. For all the talk of Trengove's bad form he still has an edge on that lot I think. Raffle the last two spots but I'd prefer Evans and Kent. At the same time with Kennedy Harris likely starting and Viney first up it wouldn't surprise me if they wanted Byrnes' 'experience' whatever it counts for.

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Can someone tell me - what is the situation with Gawn?

Body not up the stress of AFL IMO Bbo

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was anyone else hoping to see Frawley's name in the outs?

looks like Roos is not going to buck the ongoing trend of auto-selecting senior players with pea hearts

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Body not up the stress of AFL IMO Bbo

Hope you're wrong OD but fellows of that build can be chancy.

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Cant understand people wanting to drop Frawley with no Garland in the side. Just remind me how Fitz & Pederson has gone the first 2 weeks !!!

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