Chief football writer Matt Burgan looks at five points that emerged from Melbourne’s shattering 148-point loss to Essendon at the MCG on Saturday night
1 – The coach’s post-match message
It was always going to be fascinating hearing coach Mark Neeld’s opening comments post-match. From his first answer, he said his immediate message to his players was “twofold”. “Clearly [the performance was] not good enough. Secondly, there’s only one way out of this and it’s together. The whole club [is] hurting in every component. That’s what we talked about. Head down, work hard. There you go.”
2 – The co-captain’s thoughts
Jack Grimes fronted up to several media outlets post-match and spoke to melbournefc.com.au. He said it was simply “hard to sum up a game like that”. “The only way you can put it, is that it simply wasn’t good enough. I’m not throwing out any excuses, we’re not throwing any things we did well in the game – there weren’t any positives taken out of it. We simply weren’t good enough.”
3 – Why Watts was subbed
Jack Watts was subbed off in the second half for David Rodan. It was tough to see, given Watts was given Bronx cheers by the red and blue fans during the match. Coach Mark Neeld shed some light on the issue post-match. “Jack Watts was ill and subbed out for form. He was sick. He didn’t feel great and his performance was also one that we thought ‘that was enough’. When you take the field, you’re 100 per cent fit – that’s the way it works. Jack’s a professional AFL player – let’s just get going.”
4 – An unwanted top 20 record
Not only does Melbourne hold the unfortunate record for the two greatest losses in VFL/AFL history – 190 points against Fitzroy, 1979 and 186 points against Geelong, 2011 – it now holds up the bookend in the top 20 greatest losses. The 148 point loss to Essendon was the 20th worst loss in VFL/AFL history. Only St Kilda (four) has more losses in that top 20.
5 – … And an unwanted record at the home of football
In 1,134 matches Melbourne has played at the MCG, it has never suffered a heavier defeat than Saturday night’s 148 point loss to Essendon. For the record, it was also Melbourne’s third greatest loss in its history, and Essendon’s second greatest win.