Senior Melbourne officials have been labelled “pathetic” for suggesting the club’s finals implosion was due to the fallout from Angus Brayshaw’s concussion.
Brayshaw was concussed in the first quarter of Melbourne’s qualifying final against Collingwood and missed the semi-final loss to Carlton last week.
According to veteran AFL reporter Jon Ralph, “senior figures” at the club believe Brayshaw’s concussion and the week-long fallout that followed “derailed [Melbourne’s] finals pitch”.
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That excuse did not fly with former Hawthorn premiership player Campbell Brown, who labelled the theory “absolutely pathetic”.
“Don’t look for excuses and give me that garbage. Get mentally stronger as a playing group. I won’t have it,” Brown told SEN on Tuesday.
“If I was [Melbourne coach] Simon Goodwin and whoever that senior Melbourne official was, I’d gag them, because that is just absolute rot.
“You don’t come out publicly and say you got knocked out in straight sets of a finals series because a player got concussed. Just pathetic.
“I think they’re a fragile football club and have been for a little while and they just played into that.
“They choked twice, let’s be honest. They couldn’t get the job done.
“One, because they aren’t as good as what they think they are, and two, because they can’t execute in front of goals. It’s pretty simple.”
Brown is far from the only ex-player to have been heavily critical of the Demons, with former club captain Garry Lyon and Port Adelaide great Kane Cornes both laying in.
While many people saw Maynard’s hit as a “footy act” and therefore an incident that should not result in punishment, Goodwin said the Magpie had failed in his “duty of care”.
The public discussion that raged in the days leading up to Melbourne’s semi-final against Carlton was fuelled to some extent by the remarks of Goodwin and his players — and Lyon and Cornes believe the fuel they poured on the fire compromised their premiership bid.
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“Really strong on the opposition, not as strong on his own team. You just wonder whether that mindset infiltrated this,” Cornes said on Nine’s Footy Classified.
“I haven’t seen a meltdown from a player like Kozzie Pickett melted down on Friday night for a long time.
“There’s the undisciplined stuff off the ball, there’s not knowing the rules, [like] 50-metre penalties being given away and running through the protected area.
“This is a senior player (Clayton Oliver) who doesn’t understand the ‘back to the nine’ rule and he’s still complaining.
“There’s pretty mild players like Tom Sparrow giving away reversals at a critical stage of the game.
“He’s highly critical of the opposition’s lack of discipline, yet they produce one of the more ill-discipline performances I’ve seen in a final for a long time.”
Pickett’s capitulation referred to by Cornes saw the Demons livewire jumper punch Mitch McGovern, costing his team a shot at goal, before hitting Patrick Cripps high. The hit on Cripps resulted in a one-match ban.
Lyon said he wanted his beloved club to “suck it up” and “reload”, and told the Demons to “stop feeling sorry for yourself and go again”.
“You can make excuses everywhere,” said the 226-game Melbourne great.
“It’s hard to back up again after a premiership. They’ve backed up twice in a row. Top-four twice. I want you to back up again and put yourself in a position again.
“The thing I want most is you suck it up, cop all of this coming at ya … and you don’t feel sorry for yourself and you reload. That’s what Simon Goodwin needs to do with this group.”