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Melbourne to reclaim AFL powerhouse status

·2-min read

Having broken the Norm Smith curse, Melbourne are ready to reclaim their rightful place at the centre of the AFL universe.

That's the bold assessment of club president Kate Roffey, who believes the Demons can emulate Richmond and become a powerhouse on and off the field after smashing the Western Bulldogs to break their 57-year flag drought.

"A lot of the names that are synonymous with (Australian Rules football) are Melbourne names," Roffey told AAP after Saturday's grand-final triumph.

"Ronnie Barassi, Neale Daniher, Norm Smith, Robbie Flower. So when you think about football you think about Melbourne, and I think a lot of people - not just Melbourne supporters - want us to be successful.

"They want to have a big powerful club that carries the Melbourne brand and is the club that wrote the rules of this sport, really.

"I think it's great. We're back at the centre of the AFL universe now and I think really it's where Melbourne should be."

The initial signs suggest Roffey is on the mark.

Chief executive Gary Pert revealed on Sunday that the club had sold nearly two years worth of merchandise since the final siren.

A record 52,421 members signed up this season but the club expects that figure to go through the roof.

Richmond signed up more than 25,000 fans after their own drought-breaking flag in 2017, becoming the first club to boast 100,000 members.

Melbourne's mix of talent and youth suggests they're well-placed to contend for a dynasty similar to the Tigers, who have won three of the last five flags.

They've done it before.

The Demons were virtually unstoppable under legendary coach Norm Smith in the 1950s and 60s, winning six flags in a decade.

Roffey became club president earlier this year following predecessor Glen Bartlett's sudden resignation.

Bartlett had ruffled feathers last season when he publicly blasted players over a loss to Port Adelaide which he labelled "soft as butter".

Roffey, an experienced sports administrator and Melbourne business figure, has focused on instilling what she describes as "total alignment" throughout the club.

"We're all contributors, we're all links in a chain," she said.

"I'm the very proud president of this club. I get to stand up and represent the club but I do it on behalf of all those people who've made a contribution.

"And I think that's the thing that's showing through now. We all realise whether it's me, whether it's the players, it's not one of us that's making the difference. It's actually the collective group.

"If you can harness that energy, it's actually a pretty powerful thing."

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