It’s a mark of changing expectations for the Demons that its preseason program became an object of scrutiny. The club had to shelve a special forces-style training camp after players voiced concern to their association, with elements of the media talking of mutiny. Coach Simon Goodwin had an early spot fire to douse: “Two days in a camp isn’t going to define the Melbourne footy club and it certainly won’t define how we go this year.”
If the Dees don’t play finals, expect this subject to come up. The fans are restless after falling tantalisingly short last year, making it 11 straight postseasons absent. But Melbourne did improve its record for the fourth consecutive season, and having bridged the sideline transition from Paul Roos to Goodwin, has the honest-to-goodness look of a finals side.
The young talent – Christian Petracca, Clayton Oliver (right), Jesse Hogan – certainly excites, and 21-yearold prized recruit Jake Lever joins their ranks. Jordan Lewis and Michael Hibberd added needed savvy, and should be better for year two at the club. And if they can get a clean bill of health this year for key forward Hogan and ruckman Max Gawn, there won’t be any complaining about what kind of work Melbourne did in preseason.
Improbable scenario: Bulldogs … Tigers … Demons? It has been 54 years.