AFL grand final: Simon Goodwin labels bold breakthrough a beginning, not an end after flag drought-buster
Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin has declared his team’s drought breaking win is “not the end of anything” after the rampant Demons had blown the Western Bulldogs off Optus Stadium by 74 points to win the club’s first flag since 1964.
Goodwin described Norm Smith Medal winner Christian Petracca’s 39-disposal game as “extraordinary”.
He revealed that captain and lead ruckman Max Gawn had told him to leave rookie ruckman Luke Jackson in for centre bounces as the game swung Melbourne’s way in the third term, believing he had been pivotal to the change in fortunes that saw the Demons kick 12 unanswered goals.
And defender Steven May had suffered a significant hamstring tear in the preliminary final win against Geelong and wouldn’t have played if this were a home-and-away game.
“It was solid. He had a reasonable tear to it. The medicos and the fitness staff did an unbelievable job,” he said.
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“They treated it clinically. There was a scan and there were some results there that weren’t great but we treated it clinically, all his strength was there. He got through all his tests and we were prepared to take that risk, as he was.
“I think if it was round 14, he is probably not playing.”
Goodwin said the flag was a beginning, not an end.
“This is the start for our footy club. This is where we want to be,” he said.
“What we do know is the respect we need to show the competition and ourselves of how hard it is to be in this position. It is not an easy position to get to and we will hit pre-season when the time comes with the respect and the work that is required to stay here.”
Goodwin said the Demons felt for their supporters in lockdown in Melbourne who had not been able to see the breakthrough win.
“There is unbelievable emotion attached to 57 years. We do feel for the people back home who weren’t able to be here,” he said.
“I am pretty sure they will be enjoying it in their lounge rooms. They will be as proud as they could ever be about their club .”
He praised the ability of his inside midfielders in particular to change the momentum of the game in the third term after the Bulldogs has turned a quarter time deficit into a 19-point lead halfway through the third term.
“We have been in that position before throughout the year where we have been down in games especially at half time.”
“The boys’ ability to reset their ability to understand what is required in the game is really strong and we drew on that belief today.
“We were challenged. There is no question we were challenged by a really good side but we turned it around.
“I thought our backs held up really well. We stiffened up behind the ball. We started to get some centre bounce dominance and that is where the game changed.”
Petracca was “extraordinary”, he said.
“That centre bounce dominance in the third quarter – I thought Luke Jackson came into the centre bounce and was sensational along with Christian . To get that type of momentum in a big game that was full of resilience and character but it was led by Jacko and our inside mids got to work.
“Max in the end came off and said you have got to keep him (Jacko) in there.”
“When someone is hot, let them go.”
Goodwin revealed that football was consuming him towards the end of 2019 after his team had slumped from a preliminary final to finish 17th.
He had to learn to enjoy his football again and take enjoyment from it and admitted getting emotional even before the game about his team’s journey.
“When I was reflecting I was reflecting on where our club has come from, our leaders, our footy department. This brings it all together. I had tears even before the game had started. I was laying on my bed crying thinking of how proud I was of the group. Two years ago we were 17th. It is a long way back to the top and to play the way we played is a big rise,” he said.
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