The Melbourne Football Club let a golden opportunity slip on Friday night — one they will rue for a long time.
The selfish act by Jake Lever late in the game, when he was more interested in watching himself on the big screen than giving the ball to Daniel McStay was astounding. It is unforgivable, what was he doing?
Opportunities like this do not come along very often and what I mean by saying that is opportunities to win premierships.
On Friday night Melbourne wasted their opportunity. Right from the start things went pear shaped.
They had total control in the first quarter and could not put the score on the board. The old saying poor kicking is poor football was evident here and when it got hot in the kitchen too few had the desire to work hard.
When we have a look back through history very few teams have been able to win back to back premierships.
It is a testament to those that have as you need good management and a hell of a lot of luck.
Imagine if Christian Petracca has two good legs, he was outstanding even with a fractured in one. It beggars belief as to how he did it, it takes guts and a huge pain threshold.
When we reflect on when the competition went national in the late 1980s with 14 teams in the competition it was Hawthorn who won two flags in a row in 1988 and 1989.
It was almost a decade later that Adelaide, when the competition had expanded to 16 teams with the inclusion of Fremantle in 1995 and Port Adelaide who replaced Fitzroy in 1997, went back to back in 1997 and 1998.
Wind forward to 2001 and we saw history created by the Brisbane Lions under the leadership of coach Leigh Matthews, three flags in a row 2001, 2002 and 2003 to become the only team to achieve that feat and create a new benchmark.
Not to be outdone, the Hawks under coach Alistair Clarkson went on to achieve the same, winning the premiership in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
What makes their accomplishments more significant is the competition had expanded to 18 teams with the Gold Coast introduced in 2011 and Greater Western Sydney in 2012.
Lastly in more recent times it is Richmond who added themselves to the list of back to back premiers winning in 2019 and 2020.
That’s only four clubs in a unique group, Adelaide, Brisbane, Richmond and Hawthorn twice 23 years apart.
There have been a couple of other clubs who missed out on back to back flags such as West Coast 1992 and 1994 and Geelong 2007 and 2009.
Geelong did make the grand final in 2008 only to be upstaged by Hawthorn and West Coast suffered many injuries to have no chance of making the grand final in 1993.
Desire is always a question that is asked when a team is so good and then does not live up to the expectation the following season.
Melbourne started this season in a blaze of glory winning their first 10 games. There were certainly no questions being asked about desire at that point.
Then along came round 11 and Melbourne suffer a shock loss to Fremantle and Steven May was concussed in the process.
May went out for dinner and was drinking despite the injury and it was there the Demons premiership defence went south.
When May started having a crack at unlucky teammates who made missed out on playing in the 2021 premiership, Jake Melksham didn’t like what he heard and went whack.
One loss against Fremantle turned into three with defeats to Collingwood in round 12 and Sydney in round 13.
The Demons went into their bye in round 14 with a three game losing streak, their dominance ended, their confidence broken and turmoil on multiple fronts.
They returned after the bye to flog Brisbane and looked somewhat back on track before losses to Geelong in round 17 and the Western Bulldogs in round 19 put them in a shaky top-four position.
Good wins over good quality opposition — Fremantle, Collingwood, Carlton and again Brisbane — led by their stars Christian Petracca, Clayton Oliver and skipper Max Gawn secured their place in the top-four.
But when push came to shove in their pursuit of back-to-back flags against Sydney and Brisbane the Demons were beaten in the pressure stakes.
It’s an area Melbourne had prided itself on.
Sadly for them they are now planning for 2023 and the question is now can they emulate Geelong and West Coast and win another premiership before the likes of Gawn and May have to give the game away.