The last time Melbourne started a season with nine consecutive wins, Melbourne – the city — was months away from hosting Australia’s first Olympic Games.
Peter Marquis, the grandfather of Gold Coast Sun Hugh Greenwood, was the Demons’ dependable full-back, the legendary Norm Smith was coach and a 20-year-old Ronald Dale Barassi had only just been part of his first ever VFL premiership.
Barassi would eventually win 10 over a storied playing and coaching career that covered four decades.
This Sunday against Carlton — the side Barassi coached to premierships in 1968 and 70 — Melbourne chases its best start to a season since 1956, a year in which the Demons won 13 straight and went on to claim a second consecutive flag.
It was one of six premierships won during an extraordinary 10-season period.
The achievements of the Melbourne sides of the 50’s and 60’s are the stuff of football legend.
They had champion players including Stuart Spencer, John Beckwith, Denis Cordner, ‘Tassie’ Johnson, Brian Dixon and Barassi to name just a few.
But while rightly cherished, this has become an increasingly distant chapter for a club that no longer holds the aura or respect of the past.
Of all the teams to have won an AFL/VFL premiership, Melbourne’s wait for its next has been the longest — a drought that now spans almost 57 years.
In 2018, long-suffering fans were swept up on a wild ride that took the Dees to a Preliminary Final. Sadly, the Eagles weren’t in the mood for fairytales.
Now, after two disappointing seasons, Melbourne has supporters increasingly invested again.
Most critically, as coach Simon Goodwin told The Lead on ABC Grandstand, the players have had enough of underachieving.
“I think there’s been a real selflessness that has been brought in by the playing group and that’s permeated through the whole footy club.”
As the only side undefeated through the opening eight rounds, Melbourne are almost assured to play in finals football and should finish in the top four at the end of the home and away season.
But rather than discuss the prospect of drought-breaking premierships, Goodwin prefers to focus on restoring pride in the jumper and bringing weekly joy to the fans.
“I want them to be proud of our players and our playing group, I want them to come to the MCG and inspire our group.
Yes, he has a legacy at Carlton, North and Sydney, but the sight of Ron Barassi singing “It’s a grand old flag” in the stands at the MCG on Saturday night showed those whose hearts beat true are well and truly on board.
Keep your eye on the red and the blue.