If it’s one thing that’s been horrendously misunderstood about the Melbourne Football Club, it’s been what the Demons have been trying to achieve in this trade and draft period. They are a special case, a rare one-off for most clubs.
List management and football ability have taken the back seat for a minute here. Melbourne has had to turn over new ground and send many to the scrap heap who just couldn’t cut it in a professional environment.
Many ‘experts’ look at the game in terms of numbers and judge trade week on the basis of face value. The disregard of the role that the human element plays football is understandable, considering the interaction within the group is kept and happens behind closed doors.
The factoring in of personal chemistry and attitudes is one most important parts of football. The lows of the Demons are due to the absence of personal responsibility and a lack of work ethic from individuals.
The Demons cut 14 players from their list in this period for a myriad of reasons. Liam Jurrah’s issues outside of football were enough to see him exiled from any chance of continuing a career at this point in time. Kelvin Lawrence felt similar pressures and returned home mid-season, whilst ex-captain Brad Green felt his time in football was up. These changes are stock standard for any club and these three spots were opened up due to circumstance.
However, Mathew Bate, Jamie Bennell, Lucas Cook, Ricky Petterd, Jai Sheahan and Leigh Williams were shown the door. Cale Morton and Jordan Gysberts were traded in deals that didn’t reflect their original currencies when they burst on to the scene. Jared Rivers and Brent Moloney, senior players who are regarded as players with good footballing ability, left for greener pastures.
Morton, Gysberts, Cook, Petterd and Bate were highly-rated juniors and many club recruiters salivated over the chance of picking one of them up. This does point to something being extremely wrong afoot internally. Not only did they fail to take the next step as players, they seemed to go backwards and become even sub-VFL standard on what they produced. The waste of talent and the lost generation of Demons saw the entire club slip on-field.
Players were turned over because the culture needed to change. Those without work ethic and the professionalism to make it were removed. Yes, past grievances are allowed at the Dean Bailey era, and how they failed to enforce professional standards and allegedly failed to follow through on disciplinary measures. However, that’s the past now, and it should stay that way.
Mark Neeld is attempting to create an environment in which positive player development occurs by recruiting a number of experienced players in David Rodan, Chris Dawes, Cam Pederson and Shannon Byrnes. Although each player isn’t renowned for being a world-beating superstar, they all serve a purpose within the team along with their experience.
Melbourne didn’t win trade week because they snagged the best players on offer, but because they’ve found a way to start fresh – a new beginning.