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Max Gawn has been praised for his incredibly classy and humble words following Melbourne's drought-breaking AFL premiership triumph.
The legendary Ron Barassi is no longer Melbourne's most recent premiership captain, with Gawn leading the Demons to grand final glory for the first time since 1964.
'CONTROVERSIAL': WA Premier grilled over detail in grand final photo
The towering ruckman helped break the club's 'Norm Smith curse' with the Demons powering to a stunning 74-point victory over the Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium on Saturday night.
Wearing the late, great Jim Stynes' No.11 on his jumper, Gawn lifted up the cup with coach Simon Goodwin - 57 years after Barassi and Smith did it together, long before the VFL was renamed the AFL.
After being the main man in Melbourne's preliminary final smashing of Geelong, Gawn took more of a back seat as midfield star Christian Petracca ran riot in claiming the Norm Smith Medal.
But Gawn showed his leadership and incredible class with his words in a post-match interview and the trophy presentation.
The Demons captain paid a touching tribute to those doing it tough back in Melbourne, as well as some of the players who missed out on a spot in the grand final side, and some of the legends of the Melbourne Football Club past and present.
“It is a long time coming,” Gawn said. “My heart goes to everyone in the eastern states at home watching this.
"After 57 years of pain, it's coming home."
– Max Gawn pic.twitter.com/RfYRJGEUyi
— 7AFL (@7AFL) September 25, 2021
"I got another special moment, I saw Jake Melksham and Jayden Hunt, some of the hard-luck stories, Majak Daw, pretty special.
“Dean Bailey, Jim Stynes, Troy Broadbridge, the list goes on, what Neale Daniher is going through at the moment, these guys are the real heroes, we are just out here and trying to play our role.”
He added in the post-match presentation: “Everyone in the eastern states who supports the Melbourne Football Club, this is for you.
“After 57 years of pain, it’s coming home.”
Fans flocked to social media to praise Gawn's classy words.
— steve taylor (@thatstevetaylor) September 25, 2021
— Ballarat Bertie (@BallaratBertie1) September 25, 2021
All class from Gawn to mention those past players. Got me teary when I heard Silv #AFLGF
— DanielJelley26🇦🇺 (@DJelley25) September 25, 2021
— . (@flynncarlton22) September 25, 2021
Max Gawn's triumph after painful start to AFL career
Gawn kicked five goals, nearly all of them spectacular, in a once-in-a-career performance against the Cats in the preliminary final.
The 29-year-old endured some grim early years at Melbourne, spending nine seasons at the club before even getting a shot at finals.
He was drafted in 2009 and was not on the end of a winning ledger in a season until 2017.
But after two years out of September action following the 2018 rise up the ladder, Gawn has been a key figure in the drought-breaking triumph.
Gawn's opposing skipper Marcus Bontempelli was the Bulldogs' best in a losing cause.
After a quiet first term, Bontempelli inspired the Bulldogs to a stunning fightback by kicking three goals.
He appeared headed for Bulldogs immortal status, aged just 25, when they led by 19 points early in the third quarter.
But not even the star midfielder's heroics could prevent the Demons landslide that was about to come.
Bontempelli is barely halfway through his career and it would be a brave person to not think he will be part of a second premiership at the club and a first one as captain in coming years.
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