By Domenic Favata


What Melbourne served up last night was hard to watch. What was harder to watch was Mark Neeld’s press conference post-match. What was shocking to watch was the booing of Jack Watts. What was mind-blowing to watch was the Demons supporters abusing the players as they marched down the tunnel towards a deep, dark hole.


So many aspects of last nights game were shocking and alarming. The obvious story here is that the Demons were uncompetitive , listless, soft and self-preserving as the Bombers romped to a 148 point smashing, with the word ‘smashing’ an understatement. The bigger picture here is that the culture of one of Australian Football’s most prestigious and historical clubs is being torn to shreds. Players pointing fingers at each other, leaders incapable of leading, supporter bashing and a ‘faceless’ club admin, but despite all this, we  continue to place Mark Neeld’s head upon a pike.


Neeld’s post-game press conference revealed a broken man, a man left to apologise and face the media wrath without the support of the club CEO, who has not been sighted, and a President who is undoing all of the work of the late Jim Stynes. TV footage showed Neeld and Schwab after the game, and neither could look each other in the eye as the players were left in the background to ponder what they just served up. Neeld must not be the scapegoat for Melbourne’s bleak culture, in which the ‘Boys Club’ still forms the under-belly. Unfortunately, this is the business that is AFL, which will most likely result in Neeld not coaching out the remaining 20 games. Melbourne cannot go on like this, its time for the club hierarchy , including the CEO and President, to emerge from their self-imposed exile and demonstrate some support for their senior coach, and to accept partial responsibility for the state of the great Melbourne Football Club at this dark hour.


That leaves us to question the players and their role in this disaster. To put it simply, every single player that pulled upon the Melbourne jersey and received their pay-check last night should one, take a look at themselves in the mirror and two, donate their earnings to charity. What they served up for two consecutive weeks was insipid, and I’m sorry but the fans have every right to look those players in the eye with disgust as they walked down  the tunnel because fans deserve better, given they are paying their salaries. Jack Watts was again the scapegoat for Melbourne’s performance, horrendously booed off after a terrible performance, although he was ill according to Neeld. This was not about Jack Watts, this was about the Melbourne Football Club and its entire list, inadequately lead by Jack Grimes (13 disposals) and Jack Trengrove (12 disposals) who have had the captaincy thrown at them. The mature-age recruiting was never going to work, and how could it when they sent guys like Green, Pettard, Moloney and Rivers packing only to recruit mediocre replacements. This is a whole Melbourne Football Club issue, starting right from the very pinnacle, and working its way down to each and every player who took to that field last night.


I’m not sure who has the worse culture, the Melbourne Football Club or the Australian Cricket Team?  Perhaps that question is answered by Melbourne now having a lower percentage than Shane Watson,s batting average.

About John Harms

John Harms is a writer, broadcaster, publisher, historian, speaker and teacher. He loves stories.

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