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  • Jason Regan

From Laughing Stock to Premiers: Melbourne's List Building masters

As Melbourne's players and coaches strolled around Optus Stadium soaking in the post-match celebrations on Saturday night one particularly special moment caught my eye.

The celebrations begin for a grand old flag (photo credit Melbourne Football Club Facebook page)

Former co-skipper Jack Viney and Simon Goodwin gazed into an iphone in jubilation with Goodwin heard to yell with glee “It’s coming home Toddy”. On the other end of the video call was former list manager and proud father Todd Viney. This was more than simply a father celebrating his son’s ultimate achievement. This was Goodwin acknowledging the decade long role Todd had played in helping rebuild his beloved Melbourne Football Club.

In his time as list manager, Todd Viney made an enormous contribution to the Melbourne Football Club. Todd was brought back to the club by then Football Operations manager Josh Mahoney. Mahoney spent 13 years at the Demons and has moved on to Essendon, becoming their head of Football this year.

Viney headed the list management of the demons for nearly a decade.

Viney would make several important appointments over his time managing the club recruiting structure. No appointment was more important than securing the services of former Victoria Police detective Tim Lamb to the role of national recruiting officer in 2012. Lamb took over the list management reigns from Viney in 2019, who moved into a supporting role before leaving the club on his own terms at the end of 2019.

Now head of Football Operations at Essendon, Josh Mahoney's fingerprints remain on Melbournes playing list.

Mahoney, Viney and Lamb were the three men who together set in motion a list management strategy that has taken the Demons from laughing stock to curse-breaking premiers. Paul Roos as senior coach and his protégée (now successor) Simon Goodwin were key to developing the incoming talent. But Mahoney, Viney and Lamb were the men charged with bringing in the kids for the coaches to develop. Below is the list of Melbourne’s premiership-winning team and the deals that saw them arrive at the club.


Michael Hibberd

Hibbard joined the Dees after requesting a trade from Essendon at the end of the 2016 season. Melbourne would send picks 29 and 68 to the Bombers and receive Hibbard and pick 59 in return. Pick 29 would become pick 31 at the draft due to academy and father-son selections. With this pick, the Bombers selected Josh Begley, who would play just 17 games before being delisted at the end of 2020.

Steven May

Former Suns skipper Steven May was a key plank of the Melbourne Premiership defence.

The former skipper of the Gold Coast Suns landed at the MCG for the 2019 season after a trade involving many moving parts. Firstly, the Demons had to negotiate the Jesse Hogan trade to Fremantle which would involve pick 6. This was the pick the Suns wanted to get their hands on. Once Hogan became a Docker the Demons were in the box seat to claim their man. Melbourne received May and running defender Kade Kolodjashnij for pick 6. The Suns would select Ben King at the draft in one of those rare win/win trades.

Jake Lever

When Lever declared he wanted to leave the Crows and head back to Victoria after the 2017 AFL Grand Final Melbourne wasted little time in pouncing. The Crows were demanding two first-round picks for Lever, with Melbourne being reluctant initially. Cooler heads would prevail and The Crows received pick 10, Melbourne’s future first-round pick and a future fourth-round pick in exchange for Lever, pick 35 and a future 3rd round pick. The Crows would take Darcy Fogarty with what became Pick 12 at the 2017 draft, and Ned McHenry at pick 16 with Melbourne’s 2018 first-round selection. The Demons cashed in the Crows pick 35 on another Premiership defender to be outlined next.

Harrison Petty

The versatile defender was taken by Melbourne with what became pick 37 (originally pick 35) in the 2017 AFL draft. This was the second-round pick Melbourne received from the Adelaide Crows as part of the Jake Lever trade.

Trent Rivers

The 2019 National draft involved plenty of pick swapping between clubs as they jostled for position to pick up their preferred options. Pick 32 originated at Adelaide before being traded to Fremantle and ending up in the Demons hands. They would select Rivers with this pick who would become the third Demons premiership player selected in this draft crop.

Christian Salem

Pick 9 in 2013 National Draft Christian Salem was outstanding on Grand Final day

The silky-smooth left-footer was taken with Pick 9 of the 2013 National draft. Interestingly, the Demons originally held pick two in this draft but opted to trade it to GWS in return for Dom Tyson, Pick 9 and Pick 53. Tyson may not have worked out but Salem certainly did and pick 53 would see Jayden Hunt arrive at Melbourne who was a listed emergency for the Grand Final.


Angus Brayshaw

Already holding pick two at the 2014 national draft, the AFL offered pick 3 as free agency compensation for the departure of James Frawley to Hawthorn. More info about pick 2 in this draft is to come. The Demons list management team decided to go with a helmet-wearing youngster with North Melbourne pedigree in Angus Brayshaw at Pick 3.

Christian Petracca

The 2021 Norm Smith Medalist was selected at pick 2 of the 2014 AFL draft

Melbourne couldn’t believe their luck when St. Kilda went with key forward Patty McCartin with pick one in the 2014 national draft. Petracca was gleefully snapped up by the Demons with pick two and he now owns a premiership medal and a Norm Smith Medal. Unfortunately, the unlucky McCartin’s career was cut short by serious concussion issues.

Ed Langdon

After 4 seasons with Fremantle, Langdon declared he wanted to return to Victoria at the end of the 2019 season. Melbourne secured a deal with the Dockers that sent a future second-round selection, along with picks 22 and 79 to Freo in return for Langdon pick 26 and a future fourth-round pick. Fremantle would use pick 22 in a pick swap with the Adelaide Crows who claimed Harry Schoenberg.

Max Gawn (c)

The only Grand Final final player for the demons recruited before Todd Viney returned to the club

The five-time All Australian is the only member of Melbourne’s Premiership team that outdates Todd Viney’s arrival at Melbourne back in 2010. Gawn was selected at Pick 34 in the 2009 national draft from TAC Cup side the Sandringham Dragons. The 2009 national draft was notable for Dustin Martin being taken by Richmond with pick 3 after Melbourne spent picks one and two on Tom Scully and Jack Trengrove respectively.

Clayton Oliver

Before the 2015 national draft, Melbourne would deal with the Gold Coast Suns in the hope of moving up the draft order. A deal was struck that would see the Demons part with picks 6, 29 and their first-round pick in 2016 for the Suns picks 3, 10 and 43. Oliver was snapped up at Pick 4 by the Demons after their bid on Swans academy product Callum Mills as matched by the Sydney Swans.

Jack Viney

Jack Viney celebrating the spoils of his fathers (and his own) hard work.

Son of Melbourne team of the Century representative and then list manager Todd Viney. The Dees would use pick 26 at the 2012 national draft to secure Jack after Port Adelaide put a bid in at pick 7 to lure him to South Australia. Ironically, Port would then use pick 7 on the current Brownlow medallist Ollie Wines.


Alex Neal-Bullen

Pick 40 of the 2014 National draft came to Melbourne via GWS in a trade for backman Sam Frost. GWS took Melbourne’s pick 23 in return for Frost, Pick 40 and pick 53. Melbourne missed with Oscar McDonald at pick 53 but hit the jackpot with the hard running and creative half-forward Alex Neal-Bullen at pick 40. GWS took the unknown Pat McKenna with pick 23, who was ironically traded to Melbourne in 2017. McKenna never played an AFL game at either club.

Tom Sparrow

A draft bolter, Sparrow came to the demons via pick 27 at the 2018 draft via South Adelaide in the SANFL. It’s worth noting, South Adelaide’s last premiership in the SANFL was also 1964.

Ben Brown

That feeling you get when the wooden spooners trade you to the premiers

North Melbourne told Brown to go hunting for a new home at the conclusion of last season. After choosing Melbourne, Brown would have an anxious wait as the two clubs bartered over the spearheads worth. A deal was eventually reached where Brown would get to the Demons in exchange for pick 33 and a swap of second-round picks for the 2021 draft and fourth-round picks in the 2022 draft.

Charlie Spargo

One of the few Demons who took a very direct path to Melbourne, Spargo was selected at pick 29 of the 2018 National Draft from the Murray Bushrangers in the TAC Cup. Spargo was almost a GWS academy member, hailing from the NSW Riverina out of the Ovens and Murray Football League. However, in March 2017 the AFL announced the Riverina would no longer be a part of the GWS Academy zone, freeing him up for the Demons to swoop.

Tom McDonald

A bargain basement pick in round 3 of the 2010 AFL draft, McDonald spent his early years on Melbourne’s list as a key defender. He would be swung forward and develop into an accurate kicking key forward who booted three important Grand Final goals.

Bayley Fritsch

When the Demons selected Jack Watts with Pick 1 of the 2008 national draft, they surely had visions of him standing up and booting a bag of goals in a Grand Final. We know now that this would never eventuate. But when life gives you lemons, turn them into Bayley Fritsch! Melbourne’s trade of Watts to Port Adelaide netted them pick 31 in the 2017 national draft. Pick 31 became Fritsch who booted 6 goals in a dominant Grand Final performance. Alls well that ends well.


James Harmes

Going undrafted in the 2013 National draft, Melbourne threw Harmes a lifeline in the rookie draft, taking him with pick 2. Harmes grew up a Melbourne supporter and spent his time in the TAC Cup at the Dandenong Stingrays. He was promoted to the Demons senior list in 2015 and hasn’t looked back.

Luke Jackson

They say sometimes to move forward you must take a step back. Melbourne’s 2019 season was a disaster of the highest order after making a preliminary final in 2018. The only positive in the dreadful season would come at the 2019 draft with the Demons using pick 3 to secure Jackson from East Fremantle. His third quarter in the Grand Final made the disastrous 2019 season all worthwhile.

Kysaiah Pickett

North Melbourne held pick 8 ahead of the 2019 draft and Melbourne put an interesting offer to them. The Demons offered to swap their future first-round pick in 2020 along with picks 26 and 50 in the 2019 draft, for Pick 8. Given the Demons finished a lowly 17th in 2019 it seemed a safe bet for the Kangaroos. Melbourne secured Pickett with pick 8 in 2019 while the Kangaroos had to settle for pick 13 in 2020.

Jake Bowey

In the lead up to the 2020 national draft, Brisbane and Melbourne traded several picks with each other. Picket 18 went to Melbourne as part of the complicated deal. Following academy selections in the first round, the Demons were left with pick 21. They snapped up Bowey with the Sandringham Dragons product playing his first game in round 20. He is yet to taste defeat at AFL level.

James Jordan (medi-sub)

The 2018 National draft saw pick 28 pass through several clubs’ hands. At one time St. Kilda, Sydney, Adelaide and Carlton all laid claim to this selection before it landed in the Demons lap via the Saints in a pick swap. Melbourne took the hard-running wingman with what became pick 33. Jordan made his AFL debut in round one this year and played every game on route to a premiership.

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