Big long weekend looms for Demons - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Big long weekend looms for Demons

By Roger Vaughan 05/06/2008 07:21:16 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne chairman Paul Gardner is declining to comment on his future ahead of a massive long weekend for the troubled AFL club.

On Saturday night, about 1,200 guests will attend a dinner to celebrate the Demons' 150th birthday.

On Monday, Melbourne will need a major upset to score their fifth straight win in the annual Queen's Birthday blockbuster against Collingwood at the MCG.

There is growing speculation Gardner will use his speech on Monday at the official pre-game lunch to announce his impending resignation as chairman.

Club great Jim Stynes is forming a ticket to assume control of the board, with the Irishman and Gardner keen to avoid a divisive battle.

Gardner said he had met with Stynes on Thursday and had no plans to do so on Friday, saying his only immediate wish was for Saturday night's gala function to be a success.

Coach Dean Bailey, whose team is bottom with just one win, said rumours of a board changeover were not distracting the coaches or players.

"Those external factors are certainly not having an effect on the coaches (or) the football department," Bailey said.

"At the moment, we're pretty united, we work very well together and the players are not being affected by it.

"I'm sure (with) the confidential discussions that are going on, they will come to a head at some stage."

While the Demons have a strong recent record against the Magpies in the Queen's Birthday clash, Collingwood will start strong favourites this time.

They are coming off big wins against Geelong and West Coast, while St Kilda hammered Melbourne last weekend by 79 points.

It was a massive disappointment after the Demons pushed Hawthorn the week before, losing by only 19 points.

"Their last two weeks have been outstanding, their tackling against Geelong was really a pinnacle for them in that area and their ball movement against the West Coast last week was also fantastic," Bailey said.

"It's a big challenge for us ... our performance last week was really poor.

"We've got a great chance on a big stage on Monday to actually put the right foot forward."

Melbourne must again overhaul their attack, with Russell Robertson out for the rest of the season after rupturing his Achilles tendon against the Saints.

The Demons were already without captain and full-forward David Neitz, who retired earlier this season.

"It's going to be a fantastic opportunity to see who stands up," Bailey said.

"I'm really looking forward to seeing who's going to put their hand up, who's actually going to go out there and show great intensity because of the importance of the game, against an arch-enemy, if you like.

"We'll see what we've got."

Meanwhile, Melbourne and St Kilda are expected to swap VFL affiliates following the announcement on Thursday that Sandringham will switch from the Demons to the Saints.

St Kilda are currently aligned with the Casey Scorpions, who are now expected to switch to Melbourne.

"I know the alignment between Melbourne and Sandringham has been good," Bailey said.

"Obviously with our situation, looking more at the Casey option ... it would probably make sense for that to happen."

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