‘Babes in the woods’: Former Demons star delivers blunt warning to current crop

Former Melbourne star Russell Robertson has delivered a blunt warning to the league-leading Demons, declaring they are still “babes in the woods” and have yet to accomplish anything.

Robertson was a key figure of the 2005 side which surged to the top of the ladder – the last time the Demons had done so before Sunday’s win over North Melbourne – and remembers the frustration and disappointment that came when the team dramatically slumped, a regret he still carries today.

Russell Robertson and then Melbourne captain David Neitz walk off the ground with former coach Neale Daniher after his last game in 2007.Credit:Sebastian Costanzo

Under coach Neale Daniher, and in a year when the Demons were dealing with the tragic death of teammate Troy Broadbridge who died in the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami in Thailand, they won nine of their opening 12 matches to emerge as a flag favourite but then lost seven straight. A team bonding session helped the Demons win their final three matches, but they were eliminated in the opening week of the finals by Geelong.

Robertson, the one-time high-flying forward who booted a career-high 73 goals in 2005, still cannot explain why the Demons slipped that year but has urged this new breed under coach Simon Goodwin to maintain their hard edge.

“For the Dees that are going around at the moment, to beat Richmond, to beat Geelong and GWS, they are up and about and feeling good about it but it is hard to maintain it,” Robertson said on Monday.

“So you look at teams over the last five, 10 years that have been able to maintain and play well for extended periods like Hawthorn and Geelong and Sydney, West Coast – you have got to respect that.

“This is where ‘Goody’ would be trying to get our crew now to know that there is nothing done yet, we have done nothing. There is a lot of noise outside talking about us on the top of the ladder but, really in the broader schemes of things, we are babes in the woods. We have not achieved a thing yet, (there is) a long way to go and some really tough clubs to face. I am sure they would be kept pretty grounded at the moment.”

The Demons, searching for their first flag since 1964, are the last remaining undefeated side and can make it eight straight when they face a rejuvenated Sydney at the MCG on Saturday night.

“It’s a very ruthless game, so to be sitting where we are, we are happy,” Goodwin said.

Ben Brown celebrates a goal against his former side, North Melbourne.Credit:Getty Images

The Demons will be without defender Adam Tomlinson, who was in tears on Sunday after a suspected ACL injury, while vice-captain Jack Viney has a hot spot in his toe and is facing time on the sidelines.

Forward Tom McDonald was thrown into defence to replace Tomlinson, while Sam Weideman, having a strong VFL season with 14 goals, will again be under senior consideration after the Demons had a major scare against the winless Kangaroos in Hobart. However, a six-goal third term, and six goals from Bayley Fritsch through the afternoon, turned the contest.

Ben Brown booted two goals from just five touches in his first game as a Demon and may be under immediate pressure.

“You just have grind out every game and win every game. You don’t have to win them by 100 points, that’s too hard to maintain,” Robertson said.

“We want to be able to play a fast and slow brand. I remember in 2005 we played a really fast brand of football, it was exciting, it was fun. Jeff White, Adem Yze, all these great players, Jared Rivers down back, we had a really good team and we had a couple of go-to set plays that we developed.

“We were probably a bit behind the times, Melbourne, we didn’t have a home, we were nomads, we were training out of everybody’s else grounds, we were the laughing stock really and we were still able to put together a really good team.

“So, what we have got now is we have an amazing set-up, an amazing coach, an amazing coaching staff, and some really good players … and they are winning games of football with some young kids coming through like (Trent) Rivers, Kosi (Kysaiah Pickett) and James Jordan, and you have a good older crew.”

Real Footy

Keep up to date with the best AFL coverage in the country. Sign up here to our Real Footy newsletter delivered to your inbox on Mondays and Fridays.

Most Viewed in Sport

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article