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Mark Neeld's Melbourne timeline

Ashley Browne  June 17, 2013 12:08 PM

Media conference: Neeld replaced as Coach Mark Neeld has been replaced as Senior Coach by Neil Craig on Monday morning
2011
September 17: After a long apprenticeship as a senior coach in country football and as an assistant with Collingwood, Neeld was named coach of Melbourne and immediately resigns his position with the Magpies on the eve of the preliminary final. Promises to make Melbourne the "hardest team to coach against".  

He assembles a new-look coaching team including Neil Craig as director of sports performance, David Misson as elite performance manager and Leigh Brown and Jade Rawlings as assistant coaches.

Demons axe Neeld
2012
February:
Neeld springs a major surprise by replacing veteran Brad Green as captain and overlooking experienced players such as Brent Moloney and Nathan Jones, with youngsters Jack Grimes and Jack Trengove, who had played 32 and 37 games for Melbourne respectively.
March: Still recovering from a wrist injury, mercurial full-forward Liam Jurrah is granted permission to return to Alice Springs to deal with family issues. Shortly afterwards, he is charged following his involvement in a machete attack.

March 27: Just days after the death of club legend and president Jim Stynes, Melbourne loses the opening match of the Neeld era by 41 points to the Brisbane Lions after entering the match as favourites.  
An emotional Neeld wore his heart on his sleeve after the match, saying: "Am I going to go down a similar road and continue to put blind faith in players? No way. Absolutely, no way.

"This industry, it's accountable. I'm accountable. So I should be. So are these blokes (players)."

April 3: Neeld is embroiled in a racism row after former St Kilda coach Grant Thomas writes in a column for Ninemsn that Neeld had interviewed his white players individually during the pre-season but met the indigenous players as a group. Thomas later retracts the remark.
April-May: The Demons lose their first nine games, lacking the fitness and the personnel to play Neeld's game-plan with its emphasis on heavy contested football. After a 101-point loss to the Sydney Swans in round eight (the only match Jurrah would play for the year) Melbourne president Don McLardy was forced to defend Neeld's appointment and to maintain that he was the right man to coach Melbourne.

June 2: Melbourne stuns Essendon for its first win of the year, 8.10 (58) to 6.16 (52) on a wet night at the MCG. The Bombers had lost just one game until then. Melbourne would win just three more games for the year - against newcomers Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney.

July 1: Star recruit Mitch Clark is ruled out for the rest of the year because of stress fractures in his foot. 

July 30: Former Melbourne, now Carlton midfielder Brock McLean tells Fox Footy's On the Couch that the Demons tanked in 2009 in order to secure the first two selections at that year's NAB AFL Draft. Shortly afterwards, the AFL announces an investigation into his comments and this would provide a backdrop for the remainder of Melbourne's season and the entire 2013 pre-season.

October: 2011 best and fairest Brent Moloney departs the club through free agency for the Brisbane Lions, while defender Jared Rivers leaves for Geelong. Stefan Martin is traded to the Lions, Ricky Petterd is delisted and Brad Green retires. Chris Dawes joins from Collingwod, while David Rodan crosses from Port Adelaide as do Geelong pair Tom Gillies and Shannon Byrnes. 

2013
February: Dawes hurts his leg in the NAB Cup and his debut for Melbourne is delayed until round seven. 

March 31: Melbourne again opens the season at the MCG against a lowly-ranked team from last season and again gets rolled. Neeld promises the Demons had learned their lesson from the year before, but they lose to Port Adelaide 79 points. "We didn't see that coming," he says afterwards.

April 6: After a week in the spotlight, the Demons fare even worse the following round, thrashed by 148 points by Essendon, with fans clamoring to jeer the side from the ground after the game. It was Melbourne's heaviest ever defeat at the MCG. "There is no easy way out. That is clear," said a shell-shocked Neeld after the game.

Cameron Schwab is sacked as Melbourne chief executive three days later.

April 21: Melbourne wins its first game of the year, coming back from 19 points behind at three-quarter time to defeat GWS by 41 points after a 12-goal final quarter.

May: The losses keep mounting - some heavy, some not. But the 90-point belting by Fremantle at Patersons Stadium – the club's 14th straight defeat in Perth – started the speculation over his future once again. Melbourne kicked just four goals for the game. 

June: Melbourne's considerable shortcomings are exposed once again respective 95 and 83-point defeats to powerhouses Hawthorn and Collingwood. Neeld remains coach after a presentation to the Melbourne board of directors.

June 14: New chief executive Peter Jackson meets with the AFL commission and asks for an assistance package to rebuild the entire club. President Don McLardy resigns later that day.

June 17: Neeld is sacked as coach, as part of rebuild of the entire club.