VERY few people have got red and blue in their veins quite like Jack Viney.
The Demons’ vice-captain was born into the Melbourne family, with his father, Todd, playing for the club for the first six years of his life.
Viney grew up in the changerooms of the MCG, and quickly developed a dream to play on the big stage, just like his namesake.
And before long, he did just that.
“Growing up being relatively talented at football, having an old man who was a football player, it was always: ‘Jack is going to get drafted’,” Viney told Melbourne Media.
“I had that expectation around me for a long time and was pretty well equipped to deal with it when I got to the club.”
But when he did arrive via a father-son selection for the 2013 season, the club wasn’t where it should have been.
Deprived of success for half a century and having finished in the bottom three positions on the ladder four times in the previous six years, the fans were disgruntled, the players were lacking confidence and the place was quite frankly unsettled.
And that made for a conflicting experience for an 18-year-old who was itching to do the only thing he had ever wanted: compete at the top level.
“I was at the start of my AFL career so half of me was like, I’m playing AFL football, I’m playing on the MCG, I’m playing against Chris Judd, Sam Mitchell – my idols,” Viney said.
“But on the flip side, we are getting smashed every week.”
Viney won just one game in his debut campaign, with the Dees finishing 17th on the ladder – an all-time club low.
He was a part of a 79-point loss in Round 1, a 148-point loss in Round 2 and a 94-point loss in Round 3, setting the tone for what was going to be a long road out of hell for the Demons.
“I’m coming off the ground with supporters throwing their scarves at us,” Viney said.
“I’m coming to training and there’s media door-stopping us, asking us why we’re so bad.
“To have experienced that and to come full circle, and to now be, not only premiers, but the way we went about the whole year … it’s just such a special moment and memory and I’m so grateful to be a part of it.”
Rounding out game No.150 with a premiership makes the nine years of pain worth it for the midfielder who has endured more than most on his journey to success.
Just two players remain on Melbourne’s list (Max Gawn and Tom McDonald) from when Viney first walked through the doors of AAMI Park, with four senior coaches leading him along the way.
The 27-year-old has had to deal with a torturous injury run, with an-going foot issue preventing him from getting a clear shot, while he also had to hand over the captaincy at the end of the 2019 season, which was confronting in itself.
It’s fair to say nothing has come easy for Viney, but that’s what made the Demons’ drought-breaking premiership all the more special.
“It’s what you dream of as a kid and it’s what you sacrifice and work so hard to try and achieve,” he said.
“It’s just one massive relief, celebration.
“It hasn’t really sunk in – the magnitude of what we’ve achieved – I don’t think.”