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CHANGES 2016 - TRAJECTORY by The Oracle

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It was at around about this time last year when I lamented that the last time Melbourne had a "winning season" (i.e. one in which it won more games than it lost) was 2006. I observed that things were on an upward trajectory in the club's quest to reach the stars and indeed, it came close to making a breakthrough this year. 

Twenty-one rounds into the home and away season, things looked promising for a breakthrough with the win-loss ratio even at 10:10 and a game coming up against Carlton which was on a nine game losing streak. The Demons themselves had won three on end including the reigning premier and then ladder leader Hawthorn and Port Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval. But the young Demon side hit the wall hard in the dying days of autumn. The team was cooked and fell by the wayside against the Blues and again, six days later at Geelong. The end result was a full decade as an abject failure in the context of winning seasons.

While the club had shown an upward trend throughout its three seasons under Paul Roos, there was clearly more work to do on improving its playing list. Players had to be culled and others brought in to fill needs like another big man, more outside run, some extra hardness and experience.

The delistings were announced in the weeks after play ended with the defeat of the Casey Scorpions in the VFL Grand Final and ended last week. The Demons also traded out Lynden Dunn to the Magpies leaving skipper Nathan Jones as the only survivor from the team that made the finals back in 2006. 

Before we take a look at the changes to date, let's reflect on the composition of the club's playing list for 2016:-

PRIMARY LIST:

Angus Brayshaw Tomas Bugg Chris Dawes Lynden Dunn Sam Frost Colin Garland Jeff Garlett Max Gawn Jack Grimes James Harmes Jesse Hogan Liam Hulett Jayden Hunt Neville Jetta Matt Jones Nathan Jones Ben Kennedy Jay Kennedy-Harris Dean Kent Mitch King Heritier Lumumba Oscar McDonald Tom McDonald Jake Melksham Alex Neal-Bullen Ben Newton Clayton Oliver Cameron Pedersen Christian Petracca Christian Salem Jake Spencer Billy Stretch Dean Terlich Jack Trengove Dom Tyson Aaron vandenBerg Bernie Vince Jack Viney Jack Watts Sam Weideman 

ROOKIE LIST: CATEGORY A

Max King Viv Michie Mitch White Josh Wagner

ROOKIE LIST: CATEGORY B

Joel Smith

The purpose of this article is to bid a farewell salute to the eight good servants of the Demons who have moved on to other things since the end of the season and then, between now and the AFL National Draft, I will look at those who have come in to replace them on the list.

Chris Dawes 50 games 47 goals from 2013-2016 (also Collingwood 71 games 83 goals from 2008-2012)

Was brought into the club as extra tall timber in attack with Mitch Clark while a young Jesse Hogan was in the very early stages of development and at a time when Jack Watts was still battling to establish an identity and a place in the side. For various reasons, mainly injury, the plan for a super power attack failed. Dawes himself, never made it back to his premiership form with the Magpies although he had a handful of cameos and gave his all. The ravages of injury and a slowing down with age took their toll and he was restricted to half a dozen games this year before he was delisted.

Lynden Dunn 165 games 97 goals from 2006-2016 
Came to the club as Melbourne's second pick and 15th overall in the 2004 AFL National Draft and broke into the side as a promising but lightly built forward in 2006. As his body built up, he was given some demanding roles as a tagger and defensive forward before ultimately finding his place as a defender and was lately in the club's leadership group. With a change in approach to the development of the team's back half, Dunn found himself stuck at Casey where, despite some stalwart performances, he was unable to regain his place in the AFL team and ultimately found a new home across the tracks with Collingwood.

Jack Grimes 100 games 11 goals from 2008-2016 

The life-long Melbourne supporter won All Australian selection as an Under 18 and was highly regarded as a future leader when drafted in 2007 at number 14 but was hampered by back problems when he first came to the club. After his debut in the final game of 2008, Grimes made solid progress in the following season gaining a Rising Star nomination in 2009. He continued to impress but injury cut his 2011 season short. He was appointed co-captain with Jack Trengove in 2012 and handled himself well under enormous pressure in difficult times. His form lapsed and by the end of 2014, by which time he was co-skipper with Nathan Jones, he stepped down from the role. The lifting of the pressure of leadership failed to prevent his decline in the side and he was restricted to just two games in 2016 despite some excellent late season form at Casey. 

Matt Jones 61 games 10 goals from 2013-2016 

Recruited as a mature aged player from the Box Hill Hawks, Jones made an immediate impact as a running midfielder in 2013 when he won the Ivor Warne Smith Award for Fourth Best and Fairest at the club. His form dropped off in 2014 and he was held back by his poor disposal of the ball and some injuries. Delisted at the end of the season.

Max King (rookie)  

Showed some early promise in a NAB preseason game as a ruckman in 2014 and had moderate success last year when tried as a tall forward goal kicker at Casey but went backwards this year and ended the season in the Development League.

Viv Michie (rookie) 21 games 1 goal from 2014-2016 (also Fremantle 1 games 0 goals from 2011-2013)

Never really established a place in three seasons at Melbourne after struggling with injuries at the Dockers. Delisted last year and given a further opportunity as a rookie but had a difficult task to wrest a spot from the club's bevy of emerging young midfield talent.

Ben Newton 13 games 12 goals from 2015-2016 (also Port Adelaide 4 games 0 goals from 2011-2014)

He was Port Adelaide's forgotten man when he joined Melbourne at the end of 2014 and looked like establishing himself late last year as a midfielder who could go forward and kick goals. However, an interrupted preseason and some further injuries this year stopped his progress and he was probably a trifle unlucky to be delisted.

Dean Terlich 35 games 2 goals from 2013-2016 

Terlich was on the Sydney list as a rookie under Paul Roos in 2008 but never played a game there. He moved to the Norwood Redlegs where he played in their 2012 premiership team and won the Jack Oatey Medal as best on the ground in the grand final and was picked late in that year's draft for the Demons. He had an excellent year in his AFL debut as a mature ager winning the Ron Barassi Snr. Award for Third Best and Fairest behind Nathan Jones and Colin Garland. He was an honest, hardworking toiler without having the greatest of footballing skills but with Roos at the helm, he struggled to hold a place, going through 2015 and 2016 without getting an AFL game.

With the addition of three players as a result of the trades and the recruitment of another Category B player, the MFC playing list now looks like this:

PRIMARY LIST:

Angus Brayshaw Tomas Bugg Sam Frost Colin Garland Jeff Garlett Max Gawn James Harmes Michael Hibberd Jesse Hogan Liam Hulett Jayden Hunt Neville Jetta Nathan Jones Ben Kennedy Jay Kennedy-Harris Dean Kent Mitch King Jordan Lewis Heritier Lumumba Oscar McDonald Tom McDonald Pat McKenna Jake Melksham Alex Neal-Bullen Clayton Oliver Cameron Pedersen Christian Petracca Christian Salem Jake Spencer Billy Stretch Jack Trengove Dom Tyson Aaron vandenBerg Bernie Vince Jack Viney Jack Watts Sam Weideman 

ROOKIE LIST: CATEGORY A

Mitch White Josh Wagner

ROOKIE LIST: CATEGORY B

Corey Maynard Joel Smith

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

"Clubs must make their first list lodgement by October 31, and put it in their total player payment estimates. This is when they'll announce whether they will be upgrading any rookies to their senior list or retaining them for a second or third year as rookies. Clubs with father-son eligible players must also nominate them by then. The delisted free agency period starts on November 1, and runs until November 8."

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