Every long-suffering Melbourne fan knew we could find a way to lose last night.
After years of everything that could go wrong going wrong and even things that couldn’t go wrong going wrong, we were prepared for the worst.
Then it happened. The long promised improvement could be seen and suddenly it seems false hope is finally turning to actual hope.
Jesse Hogan was and is huge, Brayshaw is not a bust but a bona fide hard nut and Christian Salem could be anything.
Suddenly, Nathan Jones isn’t the only person who considers tackling and effort essential components of the game.
Bernie Vince, Dom Tyson are obvious support in the midfield but Aaron Vandenberg, Ben Newton and Viv Michie show that the Demons have some depth for the first time.
You can see it by who doesn’t play anymore. The fact Matt Jones and Dean Terlich are in the VFL and not instant starters shows the gradual improvement of Melbourne’s list.
Of course competent coaching, once an unheard of resource at Melbourne, is also having an impact with players actually setting up properly at stoppages and giving tackling a real go.
It’s important to not get carried away though. Richmond weren’t awful last night but they were in the neighborhood.
Their their skills were worse than the Demons and that alone should have Hardwick in the hot seat.
The next three weeks also sees them take on Fremantle, Sydney and Hawthorn and that should help keep the lid on.
Yet the signs are there. As one of the most pessimistic Demon supporters (is there another kind?) around, I don’t say this lightly; the improvement is real.
Finally, that light coming towards us is not another train; it is finally the light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel.