By Domenic Favata


What Melbourne served up last night was hard to watch. What was harder to watch was Mark Neeld’s press conference post-match. What was shocking to watch was the booing of Jack Watts. What was mind-blowing to watch was the Demons supporters abusing the players as they marched down the tunnel towards a deep, dark hole.


So many aspects of last nights game were shocking and alarming. The obvious story here is that the Demons were uncompetitive , listless, soft and self-preserving as the Bombers romped to a 148 point smashing, with the word ‘smashing’ an understatement. The bigger picture here is that the culture of one of Australian Football’s most prestigious and historical clubs is being torn to shreds. Players pointing fingers at each other, leaders incapable of leading, supporter bashing and a ‘faceless’ club admin, but despite all this, we  continue to place Mark Neeld’s head upon a pike.


Neeld’s post-game press conference revealed a broken man, a man left to apologise and face the media wrath without the support of the club CEO, who has not been sighted, and a President who is undoing all of the work of the late Jim Stynes. TV footage showed Neeld and Schwab after the game, and neither could look each other in the eye as the players were left in the background to ponder what they just served up. Neeld must not be the scapegoat for Melbourne’s bleak culture, in which the ‘Boys Club’ still forms the under-belly. Unfortunately, this is the business that is AFL, which will most likely result in Neeld not coaching out the remaining 20 games. Melbourne cannot go on like this, its time for the club hierarchy , including the CEO and President, to emerge from their self-imposed exile and demonstrate some support for their senior coach, and to accept partial responsibility for the state of the great Melbourne Football Club at this dark hour.


That leaves us to question the players and their role in this disaster. To put it simply, every single player that pulled upon the Melbourne jersey and received their pay-check last night should one, take a look at themselves in the mirror and two, donate their earnings to charity. What they served up for two consecutive weeks was insipid, and I’m sorry but the fans have every right to look those players in the eye with disgust as they walked down  the tunnel because fans deserve better, given they are paying their salaries. Jack Watts was again the scapegoat for Melbourne’s performance, horrendously booed off after a terrible performance, although he was ill according to Neeld. This was not about Jack Watts, this was about the Melbourne Football Club and its entire list, inadequately lead by Jack Grimes (13 disposals) and Jack Trengrove (12 disposals) who have had the captaincy thrown at them. The mature-age recruiting was never going to work, and how could it when they sent guys like Green, Pettard, Moloney and Rivers packing only to recruit mediocre replacements. This is a whole Melbourne Football Club issue, starting right from the very pinnacle, and working its way down to each and every player who took to that field last night.


I’m not sure who has the worse culture, the Melbourne Football Club or the Australian Cricket Team?  Perhaps that question is answered by Melbourne now having a lower percentage than Shane Watson,s batting average.


  1. The Wrap says

    I agree entirely with your comments Domenic. Where’s the Colonel and the Lt. Colonel of the Regiment to face the people after some of the worst planning and application I’ve ever seen from a football club?

    As a kid learning about he history of the game I discovered that a club called University was so bad that it had to be let go. As an adult I witnessed the death by a thousand (VFL/AFL) cuts of Fitzroy, another foundation club. So wither goeth the MFC?

    They can’t afford to pay out the coach(es) and install a new management team. Nor can they re-invigorate the playing list. Demetriou’s got contractual obligations to the media, ground managements and concession holders. This is going to get very interesting.

  2. The Wrap says

    PS – are you sure they’ve got a lower percentage than Shane Watson’s batting average? Crikey!!

  3. Neeld should not be wearing the blame for the parlous state of Melbourne’s list and player mismanagement. They simply do not have the players to be competitive. There is a common denominator for many of the bizarre decisions over the past 5 years that has lead to this and a culture bereft of spirit. Somehow that person continues to dodge bullets, as he has his entire football administration career which is defined by failure wherever he has been. And this goes to a culpability at board level and to others who’ve been all care and no responsibility.

    Jack Watts probably has the ability but just doesn’t have the required drive to succeed at AFL level. I don’t know at this stage anyone can light that flame within him.

  4. Richard Naco says

    I have just seen the footage of the Melbourne players being harrassed as they left the ground, and I would be surprised if the Bomber scarves and jerseys being waved so utterly contemptuously in their faces were the acts of Dees’ fans. MFC members venting their wrath is one thing, but bullying by opposition fans is just a dog act. There seemed to me to be very few concerned Dees’ fans, but far too many feral cowards wearing the other team’s colours.

    I agree entirely that Mark Neeld should not be the whipping boy for this calamity. The coach I saw at their press conference was devastated, but still refused to cop out from fulfilling his obligations. I obviously know nothing of his developmental strategies or application of sound coaching principles, but I do think that he’s being made to clear up a mountain of elephant dung with a tooth pick. It won’t happen overnight, and the stench may overpower him at times, but the awful rotting mess was not of his making & only time, courage & a bucketload of grit & determination offer any hope at all of overcoming it.

    I support our game’s second oldest club, but I really hope that The Original Football Club can work its way out of this trulu horrific (self inflicted) mire.

  5. Earl O'Neill says

    Neeld looks a broken man. Sacking him would only makes things worse and Schwab’s the one who should go.
    Watts is wearing the blame, unfairly. How can he have a chance to fulfil his potential at a club like this one? Scully legged it at the first chance, understandably so. Watts would be a much better player at any other club, imagine him at Hawthorn, Geelong or Sydney.
    West Coast next week, Neeld will have to front up to another press conference with no support. As Hird said “He needs the support of his footy club and his supporters at the moment.” The latter me may get, the former doesn’t seem likely.

  6. There were far more Essendon rock apes hanging over the race sledging the Melbourne players.

  7. How Schwab keeps getting a gig from one club to another I’ll never know. In saying that, so what if Melbourne is where it is, some one has to be the worst club in the comp, its been happening since Melbourne found Geelong around 1859 and a club finished 2nd/Last in that season. The media should just leave them alone, they will sort it out. I’m a Richmond supporter, I should know.

    P.S I wonder if there are any Melbourne supporters who own poultry farms :)

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