Steven May has boldly declared that Melbourne were “so much better” than Collingwood this season and "should have smoked" the premiers. Collingwood beat the Demons in the first week of the finals, before Melbourne went out in straight sets with a loss to Carlton the following week.
As for the Magpies, they went on to beat Brisbane in the grand final to break a 13-year premiership drought. But according to Demons veteran May, Collingwood might not have been the deserving champions.
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Speaking at Melbourne's best and fairest night over the weekend, May spoke out about the pain of losing. “I’ve had a few fans come up to me and (say) I really appreciate and respect how much you hate losing, which is awesome, and I do,” he said.
Steven May at the MFC best and fairest after finishing in 5th place pic.twitter.com/r73DaFYLOv
— Lace out (@laceoutofficial) October 8, 2023
“And I don’t want to talk about them constantly. But you know, we lose to Collingwood, and they go on to win the flag, and it f***ing hurts. Because we’re a better team than them, we should have smoked them.
“And to sit there on grand final day and watch them hoist the cup, and get the medals, I’m sitting there going - jeez, our team’s so much better than these guys. We should’ve been out there, but we weren’t.
“We’ve got an unbelievable list, an unbelievable coaching group, and the hunger has never been, you know, hungrier. I’m blessed to be apart of this team and looking forward to next year.”
Demons make embarrassing AFL history in finals exit
The Demons' loss to Carlton made them the first team under the current AFL finals system to suffer back-to-back straight-sets exits. Melbourne are now 0-4 in finals games since their drought-breaking premiership triumph in 2021, and all four losses have come at the MCG.
After finishing second on the ladder in 2022, Simon Goodwin's side were dumped out of the finals with back-to-back losses against Sydney and Brisbane. In 2023 they finished fourth before going down to Collingwood and Carlton.
“Any way you look at it it’s a failed season, which is a bitter pill to swallow," club great Garry Lyon said on Fox Footy after the loss to Carlton, declaring Goodwin would be “absolutely gutted.” He added: “They’ve been in the top four for something like 58 of 62 weeks and they’ve got one premiership to show for it and they’ve lost their last four finals. This would be heartbreaking for him.”
Collingwood great Nathan Buckley said: “One of the difficult things about such a close loss like that is that every decision you’ve made will be scrutinised and it will be the wrong decision. Then every decision Carlton and ‘Vossy’ (coach Michael Voss) have made will be scrutinised and they’ll be the right decision. It’s the reality of a close loss like that and a season that hasn’t come to the fruition many thought it might.”
The Dees kicked 16 goals and 28 behinds in their two finals losses this year, while their opponents were 20.13. “It followed a similar pattern. Execution in the front half, tonight was as much about the inaccuracy in front of goal. That is their biggest concern,” Jonathan Brown said. “Obviously personnel and all those sorts of things, we know that, but if they can just sort out that front half (they’ll be better).”
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