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Melbourne will learn 'a hell of a lot'

Peter Ryan  September 6, 2017 9:52 AM

They want to use [the experience] to really push themselves further in the years ahead ... this group will learn a hell of a lot from that experience

MELBOURNE is finally coming to grips with its season despite the devastation it still feels at missing the finals by a sliver of percentage.   

First-year coach Simon Goodwin said players and staff were "shattered" at the team's failure to secure a finals spot for the first time since 2006 with a win against Collingwood in the final round.

He said it was "pure agony" to watch West Coast defeat Adelaide by 29 points in the final game of the home and away season to take the Demons' spot. 

However Goodwin said the club would draw on the experience to build a resilient team that could succeed in finals.

"They want to use [the experience] to really push themselves further in the years ahead ... this group will learn a hell of a lot from that experience," Goodwin told melbournefc.com.au.

The club has been hammered for the disappointing end to the season but internally it is finally emerging from under the dark clouds to acknowledge the gains it made in 2017.

Those gains include:

  • the most wins (12) in a season since 2006
  • cracked 100 per cent for the first time since 2006
  • equal fourth in the AFL for quarters won and the most since 2004: 49
  • fielded the ninth youngest team (by average age) in round 23
  • Broke 800,000 spectators for the first time in its history 

Although he acknowledged the disappointment fans felt watching the team stumble at the final hurdle, Goodwin said the journey to building a sustainable winning culture was heading in the right direction despite the hiccup.

"[We] were very hurt and disappointed by how it all finished, but at the same time, we’ve got great optimism for a pathway forward," Goodwin said.

He said the slow start in the final round was not good enough, with statistics showing the Demons were outscored by 127 points in first quarters this season, ranked third-worst in the competition 

They were, however, in the top eight for scoring differentials for the remaining three quarters.

It meant Melbourne was only in front for 43 per cent of games during 2017, being the equal worst team in the competition between the 10-minute mark and the end of the first quarter.

The Demons season began to wobble after the dramatic three-point win over West Coast in round 14 that pushed the club to fifth on the ladder.

From that point on the Demons only scored more than 100 points in a game once, after doing so seven times in the previous 13 games.

Goodwin said the team battled to implement its game plan after the win over the Eagles, with the Demons dropping from being the fourth-highest scoring team to round 14, finishing as the seventh. 

Injuries to Nathan Jones, Jesse Hogan and Jack Viney didn't help although Goodwin didn't mention them. It also became obvious Melbourne battled a rough patch of travel during rounds 17-20 when it dropped three of the four games it played in 22 days.

Goodwin wasn't about to offer excuses but he was offering hope with the Demons now in the conversation about finals, if not preparing to play in September.

"We’ve come from a safe bubble, where there are no expectations of the footy club – and now we have the expectation of winning, which I think is a great position for this footy club to be in," he said