Demons have had much to ponder after Dockers debacle

Roger Vaughan |

Melbourne’s Alice Springs hammering at the hands of Fremantle has prompted a week of reflection.
Melbourne’s Alice Springs hammering at the hands of Fremantle has prompted a week of reflection.

Melbourne’s Alice Springs debacle has prompted a week of soul-searching at the AFL club, with coach Simon Goodwin bluntly saying there were no excuses.

The Demons’ stunning 92-point surrender to Fremantle last Sunday presented a crossroads moment for a club that has been bullish about its premiership chances.

There is no time to waste, with Monday bringing the annual Kings’ Birthday blockbuster against fierce rivals Collingwood.

That was shaping as a mouth-watering clash regardless of Melbourne’s form, given what happened during and after last year’s qualifying final.

But Goodwin insisted crossing paths with Brayden Maynard again had not been discussed this week, with far more pressing topics of conversation after what happened in Alice Springs.

“If you’re not burning after a 92-point loss, there’s something wrong. It sits in your guts, you’re disappointed,” Goodwin said before Friday morning training.

“But we can’t deal with the past … there’s an opportunity that’s staring us right in the face.”

Goodwin said the Demons had followed a deliberate process this week to rectify what went so badly wrong against Fremantle.

They have lost three of their last four and have dropped out of the top eight.

“We just didn’t perform at anywhere near the level and we’ll own that,” he said.

“You want to make sure everyone’s really clear and that’s been a big part of the week.

“One – we own it, we’re vulnerable and we look into it. But two is building the clarity of how we want it to look. And that’s what the week has been about.

“The players have been brilliant in embracing that and they’re looking forward to the opportunity.”

Simon Goodwin.
Head coach Simon Goodwin says Melbourne’s players have “owned” last week’s heavy defeat. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

Neale Daniher’s visit to the club this week was timely, given the circumstances.

The King’s Birthday game doubles as a key fundraiser for Daniher’s Fight MND charity.

Daniher, a former Melbourne coach, has motor neurone disease and is an inspiration with his determination to fight the ravages of the incurable disease.

“It was perfect timing for us,” Goodwin said of Daniher’s visit.

“One thing you learn from Neale really quickly, in adversity or your toughest moments … there’s always an opportunity.

“What he’s been able to do for MND, the fight against the beast – he looked at what was possible.

“Listening to that message, what’s our opportunity and what was our darkest moment, in terms of the game that we played on the weekend?

“It was a perfect segue and a perfect lesson from Neale … the opportunity that sits in front of us. He gives great perspective.”

Goodwin insisted one topic that has been given no oxygen within Melbourne this week was the latest circumstances around their rivalry with Collingwood.

Maynard’s bump on Angus Brayshaw in last year’s qualifying final ended the career of the Melbourne man and created a storm of controversy.

Brayden Maynard (left) and Angus Brayshaw (medicab).
A challenge from Brayden Maynard (left) ended the career of Melbourne’s Angus Brayshaw last season. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

Defender Steven May further stoked the fire a few weeks later when he said at the club’s best-and-fairest function that the Demons should have smoked Collingwood in the qualifying final.

“We certainly haven’t spoken about that internally … where we’re at, we really have to worry about what’s in front of us,” Goodwin said.

“It’s important we focus on us and we focus on the opportunity this week.”

Goodwin said Jacob van Rooyen (adductor) is a big chance to return on Monday.