Demons' 57-year curse lifted in 16 minutes

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Sixteen minutes of magic have lifted a Demons curse that lasted 57 years.

Melbourne's famous Norm Smith curse was broken with a burst of football wizardry in the AFL grand final.

Some 13 minutes into the third quarter, the cursed Demons looked beaten by the Western Bulldogs - they trailed by 19 points.

But a tick under 16 minutes later, Melbourne led by 24 points after a stunning seven-goal spree. Game, and curse, over.

The curse stems from remarks uttered by legendary Melbourne coach Norm Smith in 1967.

"It will be many, many years before Melbourne will play in the finals again, let alone become a force," he said.

"And it will be a long, long time before Melbourne wins another premiership."

Why did the Demons' most famous football son hex his club?

The origins date back a few years before Smith's infamous remarks: to 1964, the year of Melbourne's last premiership - until Saturday night.

Smith had played in four flags - 1939, 1940, 1940 and 1948 - for the Demons.

He coached the club from 1952 and won six more premierships - 1955, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1960 and 1964.

But the victory in '64 was punctuated by controversy when Smith, in a radio interview, accused umpire Don Blew of being "subconsciously biased towards the underdog".

The ump demanded an apology. Smith refused. Blew, in March 1965, sued for defamation.

Smith asked the Demons to cover his legal costs but the club's committee, while expressing "moral" support for the coach, refused.

The seeds of outright hostility were planted and grew wildly: in July 1965, the committee wanted Smith to express his support for the board to his players.

The committee expected Smith to do so at the following night's Thursday training - but didn't tell the coach of their deadline.

On the Friday, while Smith was at home preparing for a game the next day, he received a telegram from the Melbourne committee.

"Obviously you do not intend to honour your word and the committee is not prepared to allow your disruptive tactics to continue, and your appointment as coach is cancelled as from this day," it read.

Smith was replaced for the Saturday game, then made an explosive appearance on a Sunday footy television show, labelling the committee as dishonest and weak, among other criiticisms.

Incredibly, Smith was reinstated as coach the next Tuesday but the damage was done: the Demons missed the finals in 1965 for the first time in a dozen years.

Smith, troubled by heart issues, stepped down as coach at the end of the 1967 season. He wanted to join the committee, but a block of board members campaigned against him and he was shunned.

He never returned to the club, uttering the prophetic warning-turned-curse about what was to come for the Demons.

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