As difficult as it might be, Ben Brown is determined to treat his first AFL grand appearance as "just another game of football".
That is because it is an approach that has served him well and helped him turn his career around to become a key figure in attack for Melbourne as it looks to end its 57-year premiership drought.
Brown, who is preparing for his first grand final at any level since his St Brendan-Shaw College days, looms as a key figure against the Western Bulldogs Saturday week.
"Boiling it down to something really simple, as each contest is a new opportunity to get better and do something good, and not be caught up in the big picture too much [has helped],'' said Brown, the Devonport product whose AFL start came as a mature-age player drafted out the VFL.
"I think that will be the key thing for all of us, and that is how the coaches have approached things at Melbourne, as it is about the way we play and if we play the right way the result will take care of itself.
"It has been a bit of a change of mindset for me as over the past 12-18 months [coinciding with his last season at North Melbourne and first at Melbourne] as I have had to do a bit of work, not only on my body, but how I go about footy on the training track and in games, and there is a physical preparation aspect to that and a mental preparation aspect to that.
"I have probably done a bit of work this year on the mental preparation side.
"Going back to the VFL for six weeks and having to look at my game and how to get better and saw me refocus my training and refocus my goals in terms of going out in each game and just trying to get better each time, and when I got my recall to the AFL side I knew I would have an impact at that point."
He said that time away from the senior team, which came after a delayed start due to pre-season knee surgery with questions being asked about how he fit into the Demons' structure, was important to help him get used to the way Melbourne goes about it and to remind him of his own strengths.
Brown said looking at some old vision from his days as a Kangaroo, and comparing it to his 2021 output, had helped him feel comfortable again.
"But it is a constant battle to maintain that focus and you go up and down and up and down, and for me it has been trying to make the roller coaster a little bit more even, but that doesn't mean it is a straight line and perfect all the time,'' he said.
"[It's about] evening out the bumps and making sure when you fail you don't go quite as low and when you succeed you don't go quite as high, it means you are able to train and play at a better level, and for me that is what has worked so far this year."
Brown will enter the grand final having kicked 22.11 from 12 matches in 2021, with some key moments in the Demons' preliminary final win over Geelong, to take his career tally to 309 goals from 142 outings.
Of those games 130 were at Arden Street with 287 of those goals.
When he does allow himself to endulge in the idea of what might happen next Saturday, he admits it would be amazing to be a premiership player.
"To be here now with the Melbourne footy club preparing for a grand final is pretty unbelievable and I am pretty thankful for the opportunity the Melbourne Football Club gave me and I am still looking to repay that faith,'' he said.
"To win a premiership would be unbelievable and it was my dream growing up as when you are running around in the backyard kicking the footy around you are imagining yourself playing in a grand final with the crowd roaring in the background.
"You definitely do have to stop yourself at times as standing on the dais and getting that medal around your neck is a pretty exciting thought, and I would love this for this whole group."
Being a key forward and getting delivery from Melbourne's star-studded midfield has, not surprisingly, been enjoyable for Brown.
"At times it is hard not to just sit back in awe and watch the likes of Maxy Gawn, who was incredible on Friday night [in the preliminary final win over Geelong] and at times I was in awe of him watching him go about his business and I almost felt like a fan out on the field,'' he said.
"When you have Clayton Oliver, Christian Petracca and Jack Viney, who just throws his body into everything, and the depth that we have as well with James Harmes, our wingers Ed Langdon and Angus Brayshaw, who finished second in a Brownlow Medal, it is pretty amazing the depth we have got.
"We have started to build a bit of a connection, which is great, and they are starting to learn how I play and I am starting to learn a bit how those guys play as well."
While he said the midfield would be a key factor in the Optus Stadium encounter, he also believed the "talent and toughness" in the Melbourne attack and defence would also be vital.
Brown said he still kept an eye on the Tasmanian footy scene as much as he can and was very grateful for what both Devonport and Glenorchy football clubs did for him as we he was rising through the ranks in the state.
"Definitely to all the people who put their time into footy all over Tasmania, they just need to know how grateful we are for what you do, and that is myself included,'' he said.
Brown's grand final preparations come with Devonport getting ready to play grand finals in all three grades in the NWFL on Saturday.
"Fingers crossed for a win for the Pies,'' he said.
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