Monday, October 18, 2021
Home Game Dees complete revival from AFL 'laughing stock'

Dees complete revival from AFL ‘laughing stock’

Melbourne has completed its revival from perennial AFL cellar-dwellers to claim the 13th premiership in the club’s history with a thumping win in the 2021 grand final.

The Demons broke a 57-year premiership drought with a thumping 74-point win over the Bulldogs at Perth’s Optus Stadium with a stunning second-half showing.

Melbourne’s win continued a stunning turnaround for one of the AFL’s power clubs that had remained dormant for decades.

The incredible turnaround in fortunes was explained perfectly by midfielder Jack Viney, who made his debut in 2013, and saw his father Todd play for the club in the 90s.

“My first game we got beaten by 80 points, second game 150 points,” Viney said of his debut season which saw the club record just two wins.

Christian Petracca of the Demons celebrates a goal with Jack Viney of the Demons during the 2021 Toyota AFL Grand Final match between the Melbourne Demons and the Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium on September 25, 2021 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images) (Getty)

“We were coming off the field and our supporters were throwing scarves at us … we were the laughing stock of the competition.”

Having not won a flag since 1964, the Demons’ dreaded drought appeared as if it would continue before a third quarter fightback flipped the script.

After Melbourne squandered a 21-point quarter-time lead, the Bulldogs took control of the match in the second quarter and at one stage led by three goals midway through the third term.

But a run of 12-straight goals, of which seven came during the backend of the third term, finished with the Demons claiming a dominant 21.14 (140) to 10.6 (66) win at the Optus Stadium in the grand final.

Angus Brayshaw celebrates a goal. (Getty)

The second-half onslaught was courtesy of a herculean effort from star midfielder Christian Petracca, who combined with fellow ball magnet Clayton Oliver to dominate the centre clearances, which Melbourne ultimately won 44-33.

Petracca notched a whopping 39 disposals in a performance that saw him take out the Norm Smith Medal for best on ground. He added nine clearances, two goals and racked up 24 contested possessions for his individual stat sheet.

“It feels like a dream. It’s unbelievable,” Petracca said moments after the match.

“What we set out during pre-season to get the club back to where it should belong.

“To the fans at home, we did it!”

Meanwhile, Bayley Fritsch was another stand out for the Demons by knocking through six goals.

Petracca dribbles home epic goal

Oliver, who finished with 33 disposals, paid tribute to fans back home, particularly those in Victoria currently under state lockdown orders due to the pandemic.

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“They are doing it tough through COVID, so we have a great purpose, for Victoria and all the Melbourne fans out there,” Oliver said. “It has been a long few years, 57 years, so unbelievable.”

For the Bulldogs, the 2016 premiers, their dream run to the grand final from outside the top four wasn’t to be this time around.

They famously won in 2016 after finishing the season seventh on the ladder

Before the Demons’ onslaught took over, Marcus Bontempelli was instrumental in leading his side to their third quarter lead.

Bontempelli finished the match with 25 disposals and three goals.

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