Melbourne skipper reveals how club no longer became laughing stock

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Melbourne stand one win away from their first premiership in 57 years, and according to their skipper, one man has been a key catalyst.

Melbourne captain Max Gawn has revealed Melbourne started to become “relevant” when Paul Roos took over as coach after years of being the butt of jokes and set them on the path to the 2021 AFL Grand Final.

Across the 2012 and 2013 seasons, Melbourne only won six games out of 44.

But now the Demons are minor premiers and only four quarters separating the club from their first premiership in 57 years, and Gawn has witnessed first hand as the club rose from the ashes of his ugly early years in the AFL.

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It’s a significant turnaround for a club that was often seen as a laughing stock in the early 2010s, but Gawn believes the appointment of a Roos in 2013 was a catalyst for moving the club forward.

A premiership coach at Sydney, Roos took control of Melbourne in September 2013, and despite not experiencing the success he would have hoped in his time at the helm, it helped pave the way for where the club stands today.

“I definitely think when Roosy first came into the group in 2015, 2016, that sort of era, you felt like you were away from the 2012 and 2013 Demons,” Gawn said.

“You felt like you were away from that, you were a different club, you were starting to do things and you were becoming relevant.

“2015 we were almost in finals, 2016 we just missed out. 2017 we just missed out on percentage ridiculously by 0.02 per cent.

“So we were starting to become relevant.

With the upward trend in results, Gawn believed he could see the club trending towards a premiership tilt, but he “didn’t think we’d jump straight to where we are this year”, either.

The first sign the Demons meant business came in 2018, when the club came within a whisker of making the grand final but fell short thanks to a 66-point defeat at the hands of West Coast in the preliminary final.

Gawn points to a mindset of complacency behind their 2018 exit, but paid tribute to his teammates for how they were mentally switched on for this year’s finals series.

“I’m not ashamed of saying that in 2018, we were happy to be in the prelim,” Gawn told AFL daily.

“This year was a completely different feel about it.

“The Brisbane game, we had work to do. Coming into the prelim, we had work to do.

“We’re here for work, we’re here for a job, we’re here to get to the big dance, we’re here to win it.

“That’s a completely different feel to what we had in 2018.”

With a changed mood among the squad from their 2018 finals, Gawn will be hoping his side can end a premiership wait stretching over half a century when Melbourne takes on the Western Bulldogs in the AFL grand final on Saturday.

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