Melbourne surprisingly has only five players left on its roster since Paul Roos took over as senior manager in late 2013 – Max Gawn, Tom mcdonald, Jack Viney, Neville Jetta and Nathan Jones – after arguably the darkest days in club history.
Fast forward eight years and the Demons prepare to face the Western Bulldogs in next weekend’s grand final – their decisive first game in 21 years – as the club seek to end a record-breaking 57-year drought.
And he enters the marquee match as a favorite, led by a star roster that includes five 2021 All-Australians – the AFL’s most number this season.
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“This construction could well be the foundation of a dynasty. They have prepared themselves for a sustained race to success, ”Brownlow medalist Gerard Healy told Fox Footy’s. On the couch.
Foxfooty.com explains how Melbourne built its roster in the powerhouse it is today, starting with focusing on the project before moving on to trades and free agency.
Finishing 17th this season, Melbourne began their roster regeneration in the 2013 draft after Roos joined the club, catching Christian salem with the ninth overall selection. It’s a move that has been criticized given the Demons parted ways with Pick 2 – which the Giants used over star midfielder Josh Kelly – for Pick 9, Dom Tyson and Pick 57 (Jayden Hunt).
Looking back, the Giants likely won the trade. But given the team dynamic, it’s a lot more even than it looks. Salem is one of the best backs in the game and the Demons’ best ball user coming out of defense.
In addition, Melbourne has recruited star midfielders Christian Petracca and Clayton oliver, arguably lowering Kelly’s value to them. That’s not to say the Dees wouldn’t take Kelly in the blink of an eye, though.
Melbourne also picked James Harmes in the rookie draft, an “inspired” pick, according to Healy, who has become a player with heart and soul for the club.
A draft that the Demons pulled off after finishing 17th again and that the Saints will continue to mourn for many years to come. St Kilda took Paddy McCartin with Pick 1, whose AFL career has been crippled by ongoing concussion setbacks.
Enter Melbourne at Pick 2, taking Petracca.The ball player took several years to become the superstar he is today – arguably the best player in the competition – in large part because he originally lacked the stamina to play. in the middle of the field.
But the boy was worth the wait for Petracca – with a career-high 2021 average in eliminations (28.8), ratings (5.1), tackles (4.1), clearances (6, 2) and inside 50 (6.7) while also scoring 27 goals and leading the competition in scoring engagements (8.0) to claim his back-to-back All-Aussie blazer.
More importantly, he’s got that Dustin Martin-like prowess in the final, where when he hits the ball you know something good is about to happen for Melbourne.
The Demons followed this selection with Angus brayshaw at Pick 3. Brayshaw held various positions during his six-year career with the AFL, eventually settling into a highly disciplined defensive end role in 2021.
With their last pick in the 2014 Draft at Pick 40, Melbourne won Alex-Neal Bullen as an “absolute bonus” selection, according to Healy,who has truly accepted his role as a striker under high pressure this season.
After a better 13th place, Melbourne continued its subliminal writing in 2015 by taking Olivier with Pick 4 in the national draft in a star-packed crop including Jacob Weitering, Callum Mills and Darcy Parish. Few clubs with early choices would be too unhappy with the way they have performed.
“It was a Bendigo boy who moved to Shepparton,” Demons champion Garry Lyon said On the couch regarding Oliver’s draft year.
“The penny has gone down over the year – (he) started with a big little buddy and in the end he won the Morris medal (the best and fairest in the TAC Cup).
“(He) came out of nowhere. They looked at him and said ‘there’s a guy who can play a little bit.’ “
Oliver was arguably the first pick in the 2015 draft, who, like Petracca, has grown into a true A-level midfielder star to lead the club’s ball brigade. The pair will more than likely end up among the best in the Brownlow medal next week.
An indoor bull, Oliver averaged 31.5 eliminations, a career-high 7.6 clearances and 5.2 inside 50s per game in 2021 to go with 5.2 tackles while leading the league in contested possessions (17.6) to be named All-Australian for the second time in his career.
The Demons completed their 2015 harvest project with Sam weideman (Choose 9) and Joel smith (rookie draft), also acquiring Jake melksham via the Essendon trade – the core of this team had formed.
“All the great teams are put together first by the draft, there’s no question about that,” Lions great Jonathan Brown said.
The Demons continued to climb the ranks, finishing the 2016 season in 11th place as the club shifted its off-season priorities to free trades and agencies.
Melbourne has landed Essendon defender Michael hibberd and four times Premier Hawk Jordan lewis in a massive double blow of experience. He also brought Mitch hannan from the Bulldogs VFL team – a strong contributor for the Demons before returning to Whitten Oval, where he will face his former team in Decider 2021.
“Two very good veterans there. They need experience, leadership and culture, that’s when they start preparing for the next step, ”said Brown.
With a more experienced roster, Melbourne climbed to ninth in the 2017 season in Simon Goodwin’s first year as a coach before moving on to a “targeted recruiting” phase, according to Saints legend Nick Riewoldt.
It’s this offseason where the Demons acquired the star defender Jake lever with Pick 35 and a future third round from Adelaide Crows in exchange for Pick 10, a future first round and future fourth round.
Of course, Lever has become a centerpiece of the Melbourne puzzle as one of the best interception defenders in the game. He has had the most interceptions in the competition (averaging 10.4 per game) during its 2021 Pan-Australian campaign, with the fourth highest number of scores created behind them.
The Demons kept their writing strong, landing Charlie spargo (Choose 29), Bailey Fritsch (Choose 31 and Harrison Small (Choose 37) who have all become key contributions to the current team. Fritsch was a particularly inspired choice of Casey, the VFL club affiliate, leading Melbourne goals in his last two seasons.
“The top 10 picks are always what they are, it’s the Spargo and Neal-Bullen picks that separate the really good scouts and they are right,” said Lyon.
The Demons rose through the ranks in 2018 to play a preliminary final, although their rise was “perhaps premature” and “a little short of time,” according to Riewoldt.
But the club haven’t rested on their laurels, trading Pick 6 at the Gold Coast Suns for the star defender Steven may, who helped Lever lead the competition’s No.1 ranked defense in 2021 to be named All-Australian for the first time in his career.
“They have been heavily hit and criticized for many of these selections,” said Lyon.
“May and Lever, for years they (the critics) sat there and said, ‘What a mess, how much money are you throwing at these guys? One is a defender who won’t defend and drinks pots in the beer garden.
Once again, the demons continued to nail their choices, selecting Tom sparrow (Choose 27) and James jordan (Pick 33), both of whom played significant roles at the senior level and provided significant depth.
The Demons suffered their horror as they fell out of favor in 2019, slipping to 17th place on the ladder after a five-game winning season.
But the club followed him with perhaps their most impressive off-season run of all through draft, trade and free agency.
Melbourne acquired the guns winger Ed Langdon by Fremantle and Utility Giants Signed Adam tomlinson as a free agent. Then in the project he landed Luke Jackson (Choose 3), Kysaiah Pickett (Choose 12) and Trent Rivers (Choose 32).
The latter three quickly became key members of the senior squad – Jackson winning the 2021 Rising Star Award – and will be the stars of the future. The addition of Pickett was particularly a stroke of genius, clinching the pick of North Melbourne in exchange for a future first round and picks 25 and 50.
“It’s not just gaining talent, it’s building the bones of a team, it’s all lines, it’s all types, they just haven’t failed over that time. six years, ”said Riewoldt.
After a ninth place finish, Melbourne made its final list a “highlight” during the 2020 offseason, according to Brown.
The Demons swapped choices 26 and 33 and the Kangaroos for Ben brown and Pick 28 while also trading future fourth rounds.
While Brown struggled to make an impact in the first half of the 2021 campaign after knee surgery, he was instrumental in the final rounds, scoring 16 goals since the 19th round.
“It was a need for them, some support for Sam Weideman. It took all the way to the final series, but it’s starting to pay off too… an inspired move, ”Brown said.
The demons also picked up Jake bowey (Pick 21) in the domestic draft, whose impressive form has kept some of the club’s most beloved veterans on the sidelines.
“Don’t forget young Jake Bowey, who added racing and class in the back half, I really liked his inclusion,” said Brown.
With that, Melbourne Football Club had completed a stunning transformation, forming the roster that would make them big finalists, possibly even prime ministers.