Thrilling matches, tense finals, huge marks and a series of unforgettable storylines made the 2019 AFL season one to remember.
The evenness of the AFL’s top bracket of sides was shown by the fact just one win separated Geelong, who finished first, and the fifth-placed West Coast, while Greater Western Sydney went from sixth to reach the grand final after a stunning September run.
It was Richmond who would ultimately win the premiership, their second in three years, Damien Hardwick’s side finishing the season full of momentum.
A new campaign brings fresh hope for all 18 clubs, though, and our 2019 season reviews take a look at what went right, what went wrong, each side’s best players and how every club can improve.
The next team in the spotlight is Melbourne.
- Ladder position: 17th
- Win-loss ratio: 5-17
- Percentage: 78.6
Melbourne Football Club AFL 2019 Season Performance Review
After reaching the preliminary final in 2018, Melbourne was tipped by many to go one better and make the grand final in 2019. The Demons plunged down the ladder, though, and incredibly finished 17th after winning just five games for the season. Three successive defeats to start the year set the tone for a terrible campaign, where nothing went right for Melbourne. Simon Goodwin kept his job as a coach but can ill-afford a repeat in 2020, particularly given the players at his disposal. Melbourne’s finish to the season was especially woeful, the Demons losing their last seven games.
Of Melbourne’s five wins, just one came by more than 14 points, a 22-point triumph over Sydney at the SCG in Round 4. Given the Swans finished 15th, it is nothing to write home about, but it was that sort of season for the Demons. Clayton Oliver helped himself to 33 disposals in that away victory, while Christian Salem added 27. Nathan Jones kicked three goals and had 21 disposals, while Max Gawn was particularly influential in the ruck. The only other high point came in Round 8, when the Demons, who trailed by six points with 49 seconds to go, edged Gold Coast to win by one point thanks to Marty Hore’s late goal and Tom McDonald’s even later behind, scored with seven seconds to play. The Demons beat Hawthorn by five points one week earlier and this was the only time they recorded back-to-back victories in 2019.
There were plenty of contenders but Melbourne’s 80-point loss to Geelong was probably their worst defeat of the season. The Demons were slow to get going and never recovered, conceding 13 goals in the second half as the Cats coasted to a morale-boosting victory. Melbourne managed just six goals for the match in the Round 2 encounter, a sign of what was to come in a tough season. Clayton Oliver and Angus Brayshaw still won plenty of the football but they lacked support in the defeat, as 14 different Cats players kicked goals. Melbourne also lost by 53 points to Sydney in Round 22, a particularly poor loss given the Swans’ struggles in 2019.
The best and fairest
There was a tie in the Bluey Truscott Memorial Trophy for the first time, with Gawn and Oliver sharing the award. Gawn was huge in the ruck through the 2019 season, while Oliver averaged 30 disposals per game and won the most contested possessions of any player. Jack Viney finished third, with James Harmes fourth and Christian Petracca fifth.
Gawn’s terrific season was rewarded with 17 votes, enough to leave him equal 13th. Oliver won 12 votes, too, but it was slim pickings after that for the Demons. Tom McDonald, who failed to show the sort of form he showed in 2018, did win six votes.
Gawn was the only Melbourne player named in the 40-man provisional squad and he made the team, too, winning a spot on the bench as the back-up ruckman to Collingwood star Brodie Grundy. Gawn averaged 17.7 disposals per game in 2019, while he won the third-most hit outs in the competition.
The goal kickers
Melbourne’s struggles forward of centre were shown by the fact Petracca was their leading goal kicker in 2019 with just 22. Petracca also spent time in the midfield and is not a key position player. Jayden Hunt kicked 21 goals, while Bailey Fritsch added 20.
The reason to be hopeful
Surely the Demons can’t be as poor as they were in 2019? With Gawn giving a midfield containing the likes of Oliver, Viney, Harmes and Brayshaw first use of the football, Melbourne should still win their share of clearances. What they do with them remains key, with McDonald needing to lift his game in 2020. The Demons added run in the trade period, with Ed Langdon joining, while Adam Tomlinson also arrived from GWS. Steven May did not play much football in 2019 and if fit, will make the Demons a better side.