Confidence is a funny word and can do amazing things when you believe the meaning. `
To sum up this season for the Melbourne Demons faithful the word ‘confidence’ seems about.
Confidence or confident could also describe how they (Melbourne) played against Hawthorn on Saturday at the MCG.
Melbourne, prior to Saturday had not beaten Hawthorn since 2006, and to make matters worse the Hawks had won the last 13 consecutive games against the Demons.
Those stats however, were soon to be ignored by the Melbourne Football Club and by the Demons faithful.
Melbourne 17.8 (110) defeated reigning premiers and league leaders Hawthorn 11.15 (81) at the MCG by 29 points.
It was the win, that most Demons fans had been wanting and one that may have been the best in the last three-four years.
In recent years under Paul Roos’s legacy as Melbourne coach, Melbourne has developed a track record of defeating top class opposition. For example in 2014, against all odds, they defeated Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval ending a 16 game losing streak and likewise last year when they travelled to Simmonds Stadium in Geelong to play Geelong and won for the first time in since 2005. Again it was a win against the odds.
However, this win in particular against the Hawks was far more special than those against Adelaide and Geelong.
The last time the Demons played the Hawks, in round 11 this year; the Demons matched the Hawks until the final quarter when Hawthorn finally ran away with the win.
The Demons it must be said, are still in a learning curve and on Saturday they may have learnt what to do in order to beat the regaining premiers and even more so what it takes to be a top eight side.
The Demons outmatched Hawthorn at their own game albeit in somewhat different styles of play. The Demons outnumbered the Hawks in score involvements from stoppages 65-21, throw ins 24- 7 and from the bounce 15-2.
Those stats are an indication of where the Demons are heading as well as being a force to be reckoned with.
Melbourne much to say, looked comfortable playing against the number one ranked side a thing that has been missing for quite some time.
It’s not only the way the Demons are playing at the moment with a certain vigorousness to them, but it’s more so how they are playing the game. The last two years from 2014-2015 it was very much about being defensive and focusing on getting top class midfielders(leading up the 2015 season in particular), whereas this season in 2016 it is all coming together from defenders, midfielders and forwards all linking together.
The Demons have also drafted well in the last few years which is another reason why it is all coming together in season 2016. The Demons have started to learn by picking up highly talented players and developing them into superstars for the club. Such is the case for Christian Petracca and Angus Brayshaw both of which were drafted in 2014. The same also goes for Clayton Oliver and Sam Wiederman , who in last years draft were both pick 4 and pick 9 respectively.
Oliver has been exceptional this year and Wiederman who made his debut on the weekend against the Hawks also impressed by snagging two goals.
The Demons have also bought in great midfielders to add to their stock of highly talented midfielders along the likes of Jack Viney, Nathan Jones, Bernie Vince, Angus Brayshaw and Dom Tyson such as acquiring the services of Tomas Bugg from Greater Western Sydney and Ben Kennedy from Collingwood.
For so long the Demons have not played football this freely and they seem to be enjoying taking the game on, which just shows you how much confidence and belief they have in the game plan. The other aspect as to why this is the best season so far for the red and the blue, is that the Demons are enjoying being the physical team on the park. They are and also hard to break down (another thing that has lacked in the past).
The Demons also now know what to do with the ball and do so with a certain dare to them, sure sometimes during this season they have themselves to blame when playing the ball into dangerous positions but now they know they can get themselves out of trouble, whereas the Demons of old(pre Roos’s era) would just turn it over and not bother getting back into the game.
It’s a great sign for Roos and the Demons that the days of being the so-called ‘easy beats’ are long gone.
Melbourne fans have a right to enjoy this season and this win in particular against Hawthorn.
Finals may not be on the cards this season, but certainly they have a chance to do so next season.
This young and physical team have the world at their feet and they are building towards great things.