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Dees must brush Scully-wags aside

The Age

Saturday February 12, 2011

Garry Lyon

Melbourne's players need to focus on the season ahead and let the Tom Scully situation sort itself out. THE Melbourne Football Club and its extended family of members, supporters and sponsors have got a very important decision to make, and it's a decision that needs to be made quickly lest the speculation about the future of Tom Scully and the overtures of Greater Western Sydney spirals out of control and derails its season before a ball has been bounced.Granted, the fact that the AFL has allowed for the possible scenario of a priority draft selection (the No. 1-rated youngster in the country, back in the 2009 draft, no less) to be free to sign with another club a year later is staggering beyond belief.The AFL mechanism put in place to assist a perennially struggling club can be dismantled within 12 months on the back of a cheque book that is balanced out of AFL headquarters. On the one hand they giveth and on the other, they can taketh away. Figure that one out.That aside, the situation is what it is. There will be no retrospective moratorium on the poaching of priority draft selections, although it should be tabled immediately for future consideration.Which brings us to the decision the Demon faithful needs to arrive at. And it is a difficult one, given the "Scully to GWS" speculation that is making headlines. But all those with the Demons at heart need to place their faith in a football club that has been reshaped on the back of the indomitable inspiration of their president Jim Stynes and his board, and an administration that appears to have successfully overseen the belated emergence of an organisation at least capable of competing with the other 16 clubs on level playing terms.History tells us that the very best football clubs, on and off the field, rarely lose players who they desperately want to hang on to. Yes, these are the most extenuating and unique circumstances and, yes, Gary Ablett walked, but for every one that goes there are at least 50 comparable and commendable examples of players who elect to stay.I don't know Tom Scully well at all, but he doesn't strike me as the sort of lad who would be enjoying this speculation one little bit. I have no idea whether he's spoken with the Giants, let alone signed with them. What I am told is that he is an outstanding young man who has been nothing but exemplary in the way he has conducted himself, has immersed himself in the huge task of re-establishing the respect that Melbourne seeks in the competition and is enormously respectful and appreciative of the opportunity afforded to him.Beyond that, who knows what truly motivates a young footballer entering his second season? Becoming the public face of a new franchise, in a foreign market, and all of the associated pressure that comes with it, would be a choice that only the extremely cocksure and confident could pull off though.Melbourne has belatedly, some would say got its house in order. Stynes led from the front, and with the support of many, demolished $5 million of debt in the space of 2 years. It was an extraordinary demonstration of the power of a passionate, embracing and united force; the impetus that can elevate a good club to a great club.The membership base continues to grow, the sponsors' book looks healthy and the football and administration finally reside under the one roof of a facility that leaves no room for excuses.On field, the team has improved but has plenty of work in front of it. Encouragingly, it appears that the list is full of young talent with the appetite for hard work and improvement. At its core is a group of 18 to 23-year-olds who have the chance to develop the sort of bond and togetherness that can deliver real success.That is what should be occupying the thoughts of supporters. Be proud and confident that the club has provided the sort of environment that will enable these boys to be the very best players they can be.Be assured that the club will do everything to satisfy the needs of all its required players, especially one that comes with the standing of a No.1 draft choice.But as difficult as it may be for those nervously sitting by and listening to those supposedly "in the know" discuss the future of a player who provides such hope, they cannot let the speculation consume them to the detriment of the rest of the group.From the outside looking in, the Melbourne Football Club would not be a bad place to be at right now. The first, and therefore the oldest club in the competition is seeking to deliver its first flag in 47 years. That's the sort of challenge that gets any young competitor excited.Melbourne people need to back their club in. If they are doing everything right, on and off the field, to keep their players happy and motivated, if the culture of the playing group is strong, then the retention of players will look after itself.As a Melbourne supporter, I would hate to lose any of our young players, but fate and circumstances could possibly intervene. That's reality.Leave those in charge to deal with it, and celebrate the upcoming season. Grimes, Jurrah, Watts, Trengove, Frawley, Gysberts, Tapscott, Morton. And, yes, Scully. They are an exciting group.The rollercoaster of emotion of a season is more than enough without agonising over what may or may not be happening with a single player.

© 2011 The Age

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