Russell Robertson describes Melbourne's grand final return as about showing the Demons "stand for something" once again after years in the wilderness.
The Penguin product, whose high flying exploits became his trademark during a 228-game, 428-goal career between 1997 and 2009 for the Demons, on Monday labelled Saturday week's showdown with the Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium as the ultimate "we're back" moment as the Dees chase their first flag since 1964.
"We know a lot of people were saying "no-one wants to play for you", which was down to a really poor club set up previously,'' the one-time Burnie Docker said.
"But through some back breaking work from some really special people and all of our members and supporters, we have been able to slowly chip away and make our club a real destination club.
"When I looked out there on the weekend [in the preliminary final win over Geelong] and I saw [Jake] Lever, [Steven] May, [Ed] Langdon and all the guys who have come from other clubs who have requested to be with us, and those requests will keep coming, and that is why we are at where we are at now."
The ease of Friday night's win was easier than expected for Robertson, who works at the club in a marketing role, as he said that "not in my wildest dreams did I think we would be able to relax for pretty much the entire game" and that he was "fist pumping all night".
"We have a lot of past players in a WhatsApp group and engagement from those guys has been heartwarming and in a way we do feel we are involved,'' he said.
"It is all about respect and you get that over time and I really I want to walk around the town, not that I can at the moment really [due to Melbourne's COVID-19 lockdown], and know that people look upon my club because it stands for something and that means everything to me."
It has also brought a smile to his face to see another North-West Coast product calling the Demons' forward line home, with Devonport's Ben Brown a key part of Melbourne's plans for premiership success.
After a slow start to his time as a Demon after knee surgery, Brown will enter the grand final with a season haul of 22.11 from 12 games.
"We needed a forward to stand up and his go-go-gadget arms are bloody important, '' he said.
"Big men are important and you need them to be able to straighten you up and I needed them as a small guy to attract the footy, as he does, and then to be able to get around their feet or shoulders to do what I needed to do, and I feel like all our smalls are really benefiting from Ben Brown.
"He was copping a fair bit of flack last year and into this year in the early days, but he has really shown that he is an important part of AFL football as a big marking forward."
He said having to wait an extra week was "torture on top of torture" considering he won't be able be at the decider in person.
The 42-year-old was part of Melbourne's last grand final team, the 2000 side which fell to the rampaging Essendon, a side that also featured fellow Tasmanians Brad Green, Ben Beams and Steven Febey, with skipper David Neitz born in the state.
Robertson said one key factor would be vital against the Bulldogs.
"The key to winning a grand final is to play your game, and once you play your game and can execute as a 22 then you are hard to beat,'' he said.
"You need to have that 22 that will produce out there and in our game on the weekend against Geelong we had 22 guys, even 23, do that.
"But the Bulldogs are a pretty talented unit and they will be hard to beat if they are on."
If skipper Max Gawn, who owned the preliminary final against the Cats with 5.0 from 19 disposals with 33 hit-outs, can perform at his best, the Demons will be well on their way.
"They [the Bulldogs] will put some work into [Christian] Petracca, put some work into [Clayton] Oliver, but you can't put work into all of them, so if those guys are held back it will be the other guys like Jack Viney that will step up.
"It is about winning the ball at the source and we have winners on that front in Jack Viney, Clayton Oliver and guys like that in the middle that just burrow in and I confident they can get the job done."
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