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Vince ready to tackle former team again

Marc McGowan  July 15, 2017 4:55 PM

They're just another team, but there's a special place for this game against the old team – you always want to do well – and they always seem to be pretty close or hard-fought

BERNIE Vince doesn't need reminding that AFL footy is big business, but a match against his former club, in a city – Darwin – that pays millions for the right, manages exactly that.

It was not even four years ago that Adelaide shopped Vince in a bid for an early draft pick, after being penalised for irregularities in ex-Crow Kurt Tippett's contract.

Melbourne had lost Colin Sylvia from a list already short on experience and subsequently swapped a second-round pick for Vince, who was adamant Adelaide "pushed" him out.

The 31-year-old is more philosophical now, on the eve of a fifth personal clash with the Crows in the Top End tonight, when he will aim to beat them for a third time.

"They're just another team, but there's a special place for this game against the old team – you always want to do well – and they always seem to be pretty close or hard-fought," Vince told AFL.com.au.

"This is the best place both teams have been on the ladder for a while, so it will be a good contest and I'm looking forward to it.

"Footy's a business now and that decision (to trade me) was made, and if you keep holding onto things like that you don't make it wherever you're going. I've just thought nothing but positive thoughts since going to Melbourne, and I've loved it."

Vince – a best and fairest winner at both of his AFL clubs – joined the Demons on a three-year deal, then re-signed in 2016 until the end of this season. That out-of-contract status has him cherishing his time in the sport even more.

"(My form's) going all right … I'm OK with it. I just try and enjoy it," he said.

"I always say when you're coming to the end of your career you'll know when it's time to retire, but I still love footy and it helps when the team's on the way up and sitting in the top eight.

"I just try and enjoy every day I come into the footy club because I'm out of contract this year, so you sort of live like every year is your last year now."

Vince's effort to restrict Adelaide's midfield star Rory Sloane to 11 disposals in round eight, while gathering 14 of his own, has provided a talking point for the return bout.

Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin emphatically endorsed Vince for the tagging role again, but the player himself has been more guarded. The Crows are promising to be more physical in support of Sloane in what will be a fascinating duel.

"There's been a lot of talk about Sloaney this week, because I ran with him last time, but it will be more of a team role," Vince said.

"Jake Melksham has done a lot of our tagging roles, so it will be spread across both of us and I certainly need a lot of help from Max (Gawn), so 'Sauce' (Sam Jacobs) can't tap it down his throat every centre bounce and every stoppage.

"I look forward to (the Crows' physicality). I play my best footy when that stuff happens, so hopefully they do bring it."

Vince is keen to again be part of a premiership assault, given his sixth and most-recent final was an agonising five-point preliminary final loss to Hawthorn in 2012.

The fifth-placed Demons have improved every year since Vince arrived for the 2014 season, going from four wins to seven to 10 then nine already in 15 matches this season.

"Only a couple of years before we were nearly in a Grand Final (at Adelaide), but not many guys had even played finals at Melbourne when I went there," he said.

"Myself and, at the time, Daniel Cross, who was another one who had real experience behind him … were seen as (leaders for a) really young side – and we've still got a pretty young side.

"The young guys have developed since then and Gawny's played a lot more games and is All Australian now and Jordan Lewis has come in, so we're certainly getting a lot of help and we're pretty balanced across the board."