Mark Neeld a man of steel, as Demons forge history
Round 10 of the 2012 AFL season will be long remembered for many moments. Buddy’s 13 goals against North, Port’s upset belting of Carlton, James Polkinghorne’s 60-metre torp to down the Eagles, the Richmond-Saints thriller.
But the stand-out would be Melbourne’s upset six-point win over Essendon.
Coming off nine defeats and no victories for the season, Melbourne were coming up to face the the top-of-the-ladder team, whose only loss had been by one point.
The Demons had been mocked by the media, criticised by their fans and demolished on the scoreboard.
But they managed to pull off the most unlikely, iconic and inspirational victory the club has seen in recent times.
That now brings me to Mark Neeld, a man who took a giant risk. A risk that some thought was to great to be taken, leaving his successful position as an assistant coach at Collingwood while the club were still competing in the 2011 finals series to take the job as Melbourne’s head coach effective immediately.
The task of coaching the Melbourne football club was never going to be easy, with a relatively young and developing list. A club that in the past five years had seen two wooden spoons and never finished higher than 12th on the ladder.
A club that, if it were to see success, would have to take the long hard road of preparing for it in the long term.
A lot of scrutiny was being put on Neeld after failing to deliver a win after nine rounds, when at the same time last year Melbourne three wins and and a draw under Dean Bailey.
Yet Neeld promised that the Demons would play hard footy, also stating that they needed to put in a four-quarter effort, and saying that developing his squad was at the moment more important than winning games of football.
You could say that even though Melbourne came into the game as underdogs, they have a hoodoo over Essendon, the Bombers not having beat them since 2009.
It was Melbourne’s night again – going in harder at the contest, playing a four-quarter effort, and kicking far straighter. Essendon shot themselves in the foot with their poor goalkicking. Lets face it, some teams just play better versus certain opponents.
But back to Mark Neeld, a man who had the guts to take a job that nobody else would. A job that will begin with a lot more downs than ups has delivered its first taste of success, a great win which will be looked back on for years to come.
The road to success for the Melbourne Football Club will be long and hard, but they have finally found a man who is willing to take that ride with them.
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