Melbourne Demons Preliminary Final Squad 1994 
VS
Melbourne Demons Grand Final Squad 2000
 

Those of us with receding hairlines and memories of Brashs may recall Melbourne’s last two shots at premiership glory. 

Unfortunately, we happened to square-off against two sides the AFL equivalent of Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls – West Coast in a ’94 Preliminary Final and Essendon in the 2000 Grand Final.

Looking back, not even the luck of Luc Longley could’ve gotten us over the line. 

Still, our 1994 Preliminary and 2000 Grand Final teams were evenly talented outfits, both of which earned their place in these finals even if their lack of superstars suggested otherwise. 

So, let’s hotwire this DeLorean and take a step back to see which side would’ve come out victorious; Alistair Nicholson’s band of merry millennials or Paul Hopgood’s mid-90s ruffians. 

Let's check out the squads.

BACKS

Sean Wight vs Alistair Nicholson 
Jason Norrish vs Peter Walsh
Paul Prymke vs Anthony Ingerson
Andrew Obst vs Daniel Ward
David Neitz vs Matthew Collins
Matthew Febey vs Steven Febey

MIDFIELD

Jim Stynes vs Jeff White
Paul Hopgood  vs Guy Rigoni
Glenn Lovett  vs Anthony McDonald
Todd Viney vs Andrew Leoncelli
Andy Lovell vs Adem Yze  
Stephen Tingay vs Shane Woewodin

FORWARDS

Garry Lyon vs David Neitz
Brett Lovett vs Brad Green
David Schwarz vs David Schwarz
Steven Febey vs Stephen Powell
Martin Pike vs Russell Robertson
Sean Charles vs Jeff Farmer

BENCH

Jeff Hilton vs Ben Beams
Dean Irving vs Troy Simmonds
Kevin Dyson vs Travis Johnstone
 <no player> vs Brent Grgic

Backs

Sean Wight vs Alistair Nicholson
David Neitz vs Matthew Collins 

Andrew Obst vs Daniel Ward 
Paul Prymke vs Anthony Ingerson
Jason Norrish vs Peter Walsh 
Matthew Febey vs Steven Febey 

Has there ever been a time when our backline hasn’t been undermanned? The back six of these squads prove no exception; gallant tryers with backs against the wall and shotguns in their faces.

Sean White was an excellent - though aging - full-back, and although David Neitz was a jet he was still young and sporting a noticeably youthful bowl-cut. Flanked by the ruggedness of Obst, Prymke and future Docker Jason Norrish, they were solid at a time when Dunstall, Lockett and Carey kicked centuries and ruined careers.

Our 2000 backline seems a touch more balanced, with the underrated fists of Ingerson and ‘big Al’ Nicholson shadowing the fiery stubbornness of Ward and Walsh. Collins was undersized but kept Scott Lucas goalless in the 2000 GF, while Febey is like-for-like for Febey on a back-flank.

Verdict – a tie
 

Midfield

Jim Stynes vs Jeff White
Paul Hopgood  vs Guy Rigoni
Glenn Lovett  vs Anthony McDonald
Todd Viney vs Andrew Leoncelli
Andy Lovell vs Adem Yze  
Stephen Tingay vs Shane Woewodin

Lovell, Tingay and Viney face-off against quite possibly the hardest spelling midfield of any era; Yze, Woewodin and Leoncelli. Jesus.

There’s class within the 2000 squad, but it lands nose-squashed against the flexing triceps of our ’94 mids. Most male MFC supporters would give their leftie to see another ‘Stinga’ or ‘Chopper’ burning up the member’s wing. 

Though Jeff White eventually forced Jimmy Stynes out of the team, he doesn’t eclipse our Irish hero. Hopgood for Rigoni is same for same, while Lovett has the edge over McDonald.

Verdict - 1994 midfield by two lengths
 

ForwardS

Garry Lyon vs David Neitz 
Brett Lovett vs Brad Green
David Schwarz vs David Schwarz
Steven Febey vs Stephen Powell 
Martin Pike vs Russell Robertson
Sean Charles vs Jeff Farmer 

The cream rises when mentioning the likes of Lyon, Schwarz and Neitz. The latter two proved durable enough to take their place in both squads.

Farmer and Charles provided the magic, with the former more consistent. Lovett was crafty without ever breaking a game open, while Pike was an uncompromising forward before becoming an uncompromising backman during the Lions dynasty.

The hyperactive Schwarz of ‘94 could’ve been Carey save for wonky knees. His transition to bustling gorilla in ’00 is typical of the man’s resilience. Robertson and Green were still, well, ‘green’, but formed the nucleus of the team going forward.

Lyon was our soul, and had Jakovich been fit, Melbourne of ’94 would’ve had a better shot of clipping the Eagles. 

If he was playing, it’d be a no contest, however….

Verdict - 2000 forward line in a photo
 

Bench

Jeff Hilton vs Ben Beams
Dean Irving vs Troy Simmonds
Kevin Dyson vs Travis Johnstone
 <no player> vs Brent Grgic

Our Achilles heal – and it has been for some time (alongside most parts of the Demon anatomy). It’s hard to see any team winning a premiership with the likes of Grgic, Beams and Johnstone warming up the pine (Bruce’s late omission hurt). 

Irving was little more than a chop-out for Stynes, and while Hilton had his moments in an all too brief career flourish, it's Dyson which gives the ’94 squad the clearest edge. His penetrating right foot (and influential early '90s adopter of the long sleeves) was an asset for the Dees and helped Sydney reach a Grand Final a few years later.

Verdict - 1994 by three lengths. 


Winner

It’s darn close, but based on depth and potency in the midfield and forward line, we’re taking the ’94 squad. But not by much.

Did we get it wrong? Or are we on the money?

We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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