Daniher hopes Dees reach back of the bus

Ex-Melbourne coach Neale Daniher has written to Demons fans saying this team can end their drought.
Ex-Melbourne coach Neale Daniher has written to Demons fans saying this team can end their drought.

Neale Daniher has issued a Melbourne call to arms, saying it's time for the Demons to sit at the back of the bus.

On AFL grand-final eve, the revered figure said in a letter to Melbourne fans they all believe this team can end their 57-year premiership drought.

Daniher is the last coach to lead Melbourne into a grand final, when they lost to Essendon in 2000.

In the last few years he has become Australia's public face of the fight against motor neuron disease.

Daniher struggles to speak because of the disease and has made no public appearances ahead of the grand final, but the Herald Sun on Friday published the letter to the Demons faithful.

He tells the story that was first used as motivation in 1998, his first season as Melbourne coach, after they had lost consecutive games.

When Daniher played for NSW country team Ungarie in the 1970s, there was a clear pecking order on the bus as they travelled to representative games.

"The very back bench seat was for those seen to have earned the right. The boys at the back of the bus were at the top of the heap," he wrote.

He said Melbourne are now one step away from earning the right to sit at the back of the bus.

"Yes, we all know that final small step is the hardest, but we all believe on Saturday, the team is capable of earning the right to take up their back seat," he said.

"And when that happens, we will laud the 'doer of those deeds' and, by association, us supporters will feel that we, too, can take our place at the back of the bus, wherever we may be.

"I've been told by those who have been there recently that the view is even more spectacular than I remember as a young kid from Ungarie.

"But first we must earn the right."

Daniher said the Demons only had themselves to blame for sitting for so long near the front or middle of the bus.

"It's been no-one's fault but our own. You get what you deserve, it's not given, the right must be earned," he said.

"For us supporters it has been particularly galling to watch as those younger than us, who once sat in front of us, were now walking past us to the back seat."

Australian Associated Press