Podcasting about MFC since 2017

Working class Dees leading flag tilt

Adrian Houghton

Adrian Houghton

On July 30, 2020 the Demons were destroyed by 51 points at the hands of Port Adelaide.

Then-president Glenn Bartlett came out swinging saying the team “trashed” the jumper. Former club captain Garry Lyon described Melbourne’s first-half performance as “insipid”.

And for what it’s worth, I got swept up in the emotion and ran a post on The DeeBrief social channels asking for Simon Goodwin’s sacking and for Melbourne to target Alastair Clarkson.

With the club languishing in 15th and miles off the pace, it was an extremely tense time.

Fast-forward almost a year on and how the tables have turned.

Port Adelaide were embarrassed on their home deck, after Goodwin’s rejuvenated side comfortably accounted for the Power by 31 points. If not for poor accuracy, kicking 12.14, a 10-goal margin would not have flattered the Dees.

Returning to top of the table, courtesy of Western Bulldogs’ loss to a red-hot Sydney, Melbourne sit 13-3, two games clear in the top four and with a 10% buffer on fifth-placed Port.

Make no mistake, Melbourne are a contender for the 2021 premiership.

Star players Christian Petracca, Clayton Oliver, Max Gawn, Christian Salem, Tom McDonald, Steven May and Jake Lever have led the way this season.

The draft class of 2019, which comprises of exciting trio Luke Jackson, Kysaiah Pickett and Trent Rivers, have been lauded throughout the campaign, too. While draftee, only a year earlier, James Jordon has nestled in seamlessly, playing like a 200-game veteran at times.

However, it’s the lesser lights and the reinvigoration of five players, who deserve special praise for their contribution to Melbourne’s rise. They embody the terminology of ‘role players’ and reflect the selflessness and well-rounded nature that underpins this Melbourne outfit.

They may not get the headlines. They are the Dees’ very own ‘working class’, who get their hands dirty and do a job for the team.

Harrison Petty

The heart-breaking injury to Adam Tomlinson opened the door for Harrison Petty. Many doubted his credentials, given the multiple false starts the 21-year-old had endured. In one week and out the other due to a series of nervy performances. But with almost forced continuity, we are starting to see the fruits of the selection panel’s labour. Growing with every passing week, Petty appears to now understand the defensive system and what’s required him.

Charlie Spargo

Likely half of Melbourne’s predicted pre-season teams would not have included the diminutive forward. Charlie Spargo makes up for his lack of height (173cm) – likely a common theme he would have had to fight in his childhood years – with brilliant footy IQ. His field kicking is exquisite and positional awareness allows him to get involved in scoring chains and help trap the ball in the forward half.

Spargo’s footy IQ makes him an invaluable player

Jayden Hunt

Howls of abuse and condemnation were unfairly levelled at Jayden Hunt after being the victim of three chase down tackles in the final term against GWS. Let’s not forget the body of work this year. Switched to a defensive role, where he started his Demons career, the eccentric character fought tooth and nail for his spot; surprising many in the process. 

Alex Neal-Bullen

At the crossroads end of last season and offered to other clubs. Much like McDonald’s resurgence, Alex-Neal Bullen has grasped his opportunity with both hands. Not a statistician’s dream, but his  intensity around the ball, pressure acts, eye for a goal and ability to run himself into the ground makes him a valuable part of the team. Behind closed doors he’s rated very highly for leadership.

Michael Hibberd

Another crucial cog in the Dees’ imperious backline is Michael Hibberd. That rebounding All- Australian defender of 2017 would naturally wane as the years went by. At 31, he has reinvented himself into a brilliant lockdown defender, who links up superbly in transitional play. Dealing with the grief of losing his brother in tragic circumstances last year, he’s playing inspirational, tough footy. 

At different points during their respective careers these players have all been written off.

Yet it’s their contribution that provides the Melbourne Football Club with genuine hopes of rewriting history.

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