MAX GAWN and Tom McDonald have etched their names into Melbourne’s history books, receiving life membership of the club on Monday evening.
The pair, along with former Demons Charles ‘Chubby’ Forrester and James ‘Jas’ Byrne, were awarded the honour at the club’s Annual General Meeting, following their significant service to the red and blue.
Since being drafted in 2009, Gawn has pulled on the guernsey 134 times, with the 2020 season being his first as captain.
The ruckman has taken home Melbourne’s Best and Fairest award on two occasions and was the second player in the club's history, behind AFLW star Karen Paxman, to receive All-Australian honours across four years.
Acknowledging his challenges early days, Gawn reflected on his journey to date with great pride.
“It is definitely a high honour,” he told Melbourne Media.
“It was a horrible start to the early part of my career, but I wouldn’t change the way anything happened.
“I was made to do a pretty long apprenticeship underneath Mark Jamar and even when Jamar was on his way out…there were other rucks, I was injured, [and] I had some off-field stuff that is well publicised.
Facing his own set of obstacles, McDonald can be equally as proud of his contribution thus far.
The 28-year-old has run out 170 times and kicked 109 goals across 10 seasons at Melbourne, with 2018 being a standout year – he was the club’s leading goalkicker.
And for McDonald, who was selected with pick No.53 in the 2010 draft, the acknowledgement is one he holds close to his heart.
“It’s really nice,” he told Melbourne Media.
“I had almost forgotten about it – I thought it would be something you get at the end of your career – so it makes you sort of think back.
“I like to think I outplayed the draft pick and outdid what was probably the expectation, but I always had belief that I could do it and be here for a long time.
"It’s meant to be hard – it’s not meant to be easy. It wouldn’t make it as fun as it is when you do win if it was just a given.
“I’m proud of myself to stick around for as long as I have and hopefully for a bit longer.”
Forrester and Byrne, who were prominent figures in the 1860s and 70s, were also acknowledged for their incredible service to the club.
Playing across 12 years, Forrester captained the side in 1875 and was a member of the 1876 premiership team (referred to as The Premier Club).
He went on to become vice president of the club for eight seasons, totalling 20 years of dedication to the Demons.
Byrne also moved into administration following his eight-year playing career.
He captained the club in 1872 and 1873 before becoming vice president in 1874, and across two stints, held the position for 13 years.
The latest recipients join Melbourne’s esteemed list of players, directors, staff and volunteers, who have all had great impact on where the club is at today.