Sports

After decades of failure, how can I raise my kids to be Demons fans?

Enough is enough.

I was there in the early and mid-1980s when we limped through the false down that was Ron Barassi.

I was there in the late 1980s and early 1990s, in the days of John Northey and Neil Balme, when you gave us a little but not enough.

I was there as a 10-year-old sitting on the wing during the 1988 grand final, sitting next to my Hawthorn-supporting mum, when Graeme Yeats gave up chasing his man half way through the first quarter.

Appropriately enough, it was the first time my mum ever heard me swear. It wasnt the last.

I knew we were cooked then and there, on that day. I didnt think we would still be cooked, 30 years later.

Hawthorn do a lap of honour with the cup after beating Melbourne in the 1988 grand final.

Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

I was also there when the ''Reverend'' Neale Daniher gave us hope, a half-team of champions but not a champion team, who were belted in the 2000 grand final and had a couple of token appearances in the first week or two of finals in the mid-noughties.

For four decades of my life we have put out teams of triers with a couple of champions in the mix, and never quite been up to it.

Since Daniher we have been through seven coaches – Mark Riley, Dean Bailey, Todd Viney, Mark Neeld, Neil Craig, Paul Roos and now Simon Goodwin – and weve had not much more than “promise” followed by misery.

Melbourne coach Norm Smith leaps with joy after Melbourne wins the 1964 grand final.

Given that actually reaching the finals has been beyond us, weve lowered our sights (after lowering our colours so many, many times) and celebrated milestones like our first win against North in 18 games, our first win against the Saints at Docklands, and snapping losing streaks against clubs like Adelaide and West Coast.

I cant recall a more talented Melbourne list in all my nearly 40 years walking on this earth. And yet.

It is still a list captive to all of the ghosts of football disappointments past.

We go missing for quarters or halves at a time. Handball when we should kick. Kick sideways when the 50-50 contest is the better option. Conspire to snatch a point when a goal is the easier option. Miss from 30 metres out, directly in front, throwing away games.

How can I, in good conscience, encourage my kids to support the Demons?

Why should I hand over my hard-earned and sign them up as members? Why should anyone?

Weve never won a premiership in my life time. Weve never even won a premiership in colour.

The Demons, as a club, stand at a crossroads. Despite all the infuriating cliches, we are a club of passionate supporters and members.

It was that passion that saw the rank and file, not the board, prevail on that fateful day in 1996.

We can choose to pursue excellence and, like the Tigers and the Doggies, draw a line under decades of failure by standing up and showing some character in 2018. Or we can squander all the talent and riches bestowed on us by the draft and continue to muddle through, go missing for quarters at a time (as we do every week), and waste a golden generation of talent.

Simon Goodwin and the Demons have not lived up to expectation this year.

Photo: AAP

Its up to you, Melbourne.

Ill be here in Jakarta, watching, waiting, and hoping against hope that we can finally throw off the Demons of premierships past and embrace the future.

I hope by the time we return to Australia I can properly bring my kids into the fold as Demons supporters and members, as my father did for me, take them down to training and sit them in the stands at the 'G, there to support the oldest and greatest football club in the world.

But on the strength of your performance on Sunday, right now, Im struggling to see how that happens.

James Massola is South-east Asia Correspondent and a long-suffering Demons supporter.

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James Massola

James Massola is south-east Asia correspondent, based in Jakarta. He was previously chief political correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based in Canberra. He has been a Walkley and Quills finalist on three occasions.

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After decades of failure, how can I raise my kids to be Demons fans?

Enough is enough.

I was there in the early and mid-1980s when we limped through the false down that was Ron Barassi.

I was there in the late 1980s and early 1990s, in the days of John Northey and Neil Balme, when you gave us a little but not enough.

I was there as a 10-year-old sitting on the wing during the 1988 grand final, sitting next to my Hawthorn-supporting mum, when Graeme Yeats gave up chasing his man half way through the first quarter.

Appropriately enough, it was the first time my mum ever heard me swear. It wasnt the last.

I knew we were cooked then and there, on that day. I didnt think we would still be cooked, 30 years later.

Hawthorn do a lap of honour with the cup after beating Melbourne in the 1988 grand final.

Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

I was also there when the ''Reverend'' Neale Daniher gave us hope, a half-team of champions but not a champion team, who were belted in the 2000 grand final and had a couple of token appearances in the first week or two of finals in the mid-noughties.

For four decades of my life we have put out teams of triers with a couple of champions in the mix, and never quite been up to it. (more…)

Related Posts

Sports

After decades of failure, how can I raise my kids to be Demons fans?

Enough is enough.

I was there in the early and mid-1980s when we limped through the false down that was Ron Barassi.

I was there in the late 1980s and early 1990s, in the days of John Northey and Neil Balme, when you gave us a little but not enough.

I was there as a 10-year-old sitting on the wing during the 1988 grand final, sitting next to my Hawthorn-supporting mum, when Graeme Yeats gave up chasing his man half way through the first quarter.

Appropriately enough, it was the first time my mum ever heard me swear. It wasnt the last.

I knew we were cooked then and there, on that day. I didnt think we would still be cooked, 30 years later.

Hawthorn do a lap of honour with the cup after beating Melbourne in the 1988 grand final.

Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

I was also there when the ''Reverend'' Neale Daniher gave us hope, a half-team of champions but not a champion team, who were belted in the 2000 grand final and had a couple of token appearances in the first week or two of finals in the mid-noughties.

For four decades of my life we have put out teams of triers with a couple of champions in the mix, and never quite been up to it. (more…)

Related Posts