For Melbourne on the weekend the equation was simple, win against Collingwood and they secure their berth in the finals for the first time in 11 years. Yet, like they did last year against Carlton in Round 22, Melbourne blinked with the finals within reach. Defeat to the Pies saw Melbourne lose control over their own destiny and were forced to watch on in horror as West Coast pinched the last finals position off them by 0.05%.
For a team that had talked the talk all season, they failed to walk the walk when it mattered for the second year in a row. Relentlessly and unapologetically, the Dees chirped both on-field and off throughout the season. Jayden Hunt went to war with the AFL over, of all things, the right to wear a ghastly head band. Tomas Bugg challenged Jason Joahannisen on Instagram and Clayton Oliver engaged in a twitter spat with Damien Martyn and later with a Carlton fan over the MCG fence. Furiously intent on producing a faux brand of unsociable football, the Dees approach cost them at the tribunal with Jordan Lewis, Jesse Hogan and Bugg all suspended during the season for cheap shots.
If we weren’t already certain that the Dees were brash to a fault, we received proof when Mick Warner shared some interesting banter that was shared during Melbourne’s Round 21 clash with St Kilda.
“Late in that (fourth) quarter, there were some sledges directed from some Melbourne players to St Kilda players along the lines of ‘what are you doing in September?’
“And as we all know, it’s turned out none of them are doing much in September.
Mick Warner – On The Couch 28.08.17
While it is a pretty good line, I would suggest that Melbourne spend a little more time getting runs on the scoreboard before they start pointing to it. What reason do they have to be so unrepentantly cocky? Apart from being arrogant and obnoxious, what have the Melbourne Football Club actually achieved to warrant the self assuredness that their players feel.
There is no way of sugar coating it, but Melbourne have done nothing to warrant the brashness that their team displays. In some ways the win over St Kilda may have been the biggest for the club in over a decade, but are they truly in a position to mock a team for failing to qualify for finals, like they themselves have for over a decade?
The media have fawned over Melbourne in recent seasons, anticipating the team’s ascension into the top teams of the competition. Unfortunately for the Demons, premiership points aren’t won with newspaper ink. Nor are they won with colourful headbands, or pithy Instagram posts and sledges. They are won on the park and despite all their bravado, this is where Melbourne has difficulties when the glare is brightest.
For the second year in a row, the Demons have been shown to lack the bite to support the temerity of their bark. Since they lost to Fremantle at Subiaco in the 2006 2nd Semi Final every team, except Melbourne and the Gold Coast, have embarked on Finals campaigns. It might be wise for them to consider this before they laugh too hard at others misfortune, as no teams recent history is more laughable than their own.
Check out Bozza discussing this and much, much more on the latest edition of THE PINCH HITTERS with Boz and Pav podcast.