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Norm Smith says "we can be better in 1965".


bush demon

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I got hold of a 1964 scrapbook earlier this year and would like to share some of the highlights with fellow Demons. This article, I think from the Melbourne Herald (Sep '64) was one of my favourites. There are lots of pictures I could post if someone tells me how to do this! ie does the 'attachment' facility below link the picture with the post?

Norm Smith, coach of this year’s premiers Melbourne, thinks they can go close again next year. In this special interview he tells why:

MELBOURNE CAN KEEP WINNING

Melbourne have a lot of football talent and young players who can improve enough to make Melbourne strong contenders for next year's flag, coach Norm Smith said today.

Some of this talent did not show up in the Grand Final but Melbourne still won it, he said.

On top of this two good players were not in the side.

According to Smith, only two of the premiership players will be missing next year – "Bluey" Adams who has announced his retirement and "Doc" Roet, who is going overseas early next season.

"Roet might sit on the bench and come on as a reserve to make him a five-year player and eligible for provident fund payments."

Smith said Adams and Roet would be difficult to replace, but he believed Melbourne could do it.

"One of our replacements is Kerry Rattray who did not play this year because of a knee cartilage operation," Smith said. "He is fast and is a good mark and has lots of skill. He could replace Adams on the wing. Graeme Watson, who had a few games this year, is another player who could take Adams's place. Tassie Johnson could go to centre half-back. So, too, could Don Williams who has plenty of football left in him.

The player Melbourne missed most of all was Ray Groom at centre half-forward. He is a clever, creative player; he is strong, a good mark and his handball is good. His absence in the finals was a big loss. Barry Bourke did not do as well at full-forward this year as last season but I like Melbourne's forward set-up. We played to a plan in attack and our record shows it was successful. We kicked more goals than any other side.

Six new players

"We must continue to recruit well. We played six new boys this year and they all did well. Three of them, Graeme Jacobs, Frank Davis and Peter McLean were in our premiership 20."

Smith said Melbourne would retain its ruck set-up. There was nothing radical about it. They had the same number of ruckmen as other sides but used them differently. "A number of former players who have now retired and become 'expert' football commentators did not have the sense to realise what was going on in the Melbourne rucks this year," Smith said. "Melbourne did not have just one ruckman in Graham Wise; we distributed our big-man strength around the ground."

Wise will improve

"Wise played from the centre of the ground to the forward and back lines. When the ball was forward we had Jacobs or Lord in a forward pocket to contest the throw-ins; when we were defending we had Tassie Johnson in the back-pocket. Wise is an under-rated player. He is good and will be better. I could see him improving in the finals when he started to fly for his marks. I know the things he can do and I think he will do them consistently next year. What other ruckman in the game has his strength and stamina? Add increasing confidence and improving marking and handball and you have a fine player."

Too big a job?

"If our ruck set-up ever fell down it was not because of wise but because we had to rest Barassi and Kenneally on a half-forward flank. This was shown up in the Grand Final when neither player did well. It's a big task to ask a player to ruck and then spell on a half-forward line. Doing that all the season takes its toll. Barassi and Keneally can do much better than they did against Collingwood. Barassi has a lot of football left in him. Perhaps we will have to find a permanent position for him. What a great player he would be on a half-forward flank. If he played there permanently he would not burn himself out in the ruck. As far as I know Ron is fit, but I could not understand him on Saturday. He did not play well, he just could not lift himself. We have good reserves for our rucks. Rob Foster and Maurie Bartlett, two boys who got a brief taste of League football this year will be good. They are exceptional recruits. Bartlett has tremendous enthusiasm and sometimes it has got him into trouble on the field. But enthusiasm is a big asset – that what makes Barassi so good. A coach can tune down enthusiasm like Bartlett’s when it threatens to become too exuberant but you can’t put enthusiasm into a player."

They need rovers.

Roving is our big problem - - we want two or three of them. Hassa Mann roved in the finals and got a lot of kicks but he is more of a centreman. In our recruiting we are always on the look-out for big men. But now we must look for some little men.

Perhaps I should not say little men because I want a big rover - a player like Stewie Spencer. But rovers are scarce, when did the last good on come into football?

Probably Ian Law in 1960. The style in ruck play is not helping to develop them. Ruckmen punch the ball from the ruck and hope that their rovers get it. Rovers have to battle for the ball, so there are few clean break-outs from the centre.

Goggin is lucky

Bill Goggin is fortunate, he has "Polly" Farmer giving the ball to him then there is only one Farmer. Why did we beat Collingwood by 89 points in the second semi-final and scramble home by four points in the Grand Final? I feel I was partly to blame. I did not train Melbourne properly last week. Looking back I feel I should have given players match practise on Tuesday. We had not had much football in recent weeks. We played the last home-and-home match on August 22; the second semi-final on September 8 and the Grand Final on September 19.

All the weapons

Roet had one match in about seven weeks. In addition Collingwood went into the game with all the psychological weapons. Everyone wrote them off. It gave Bob Rose, who did a wonderful job this year, something to whip them with. I didn't have anything after our 89 point win. I did not even use the fact that Collingwood won the toss for rooms and evicted us mainly because I think they had every right to do so.

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Outstanding and informative read, Bush Demon. Keep it coming.

Its interesting about Smith's outlook for 1965. Despite his optimism, history will show that MFC were at the end of their golden run and while only 2 players retired from the 1964 premiership team, few of the stars of that year shone in 1965 and hardly any of the new players went onto become stars.

Fascinating read and I hope there is alot more in the scrapbook

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The sacking of Smith was one more serious nail in the coffin for MFC especially after they let their heart and soul in Barassi just walk out the door.

Bush, if you have any good articles on the Barassi deaprture at the end of 1964 it would be a good read.

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