The goal that undid the Dees

VARIOUS parties have been blamed for having triggered Melbourne's tanking investigation and the eventual punitive action. But what is easily forgotten is how a fortunate bounce of the ball, a defender's poor positioning and a Melbourne's player's decision to decline a television interview featured in the chain of events that undid the Demons.

While former coach Dean Bailey had hinted strongly, at the press conference for his dismissal, that he had coached for draft picks, the AFL did not unleash the dogs of its integrity unit upon Melbourne until ex-Demon Brock McLean made the fateful statement, on Foxtel's On the Couch program that ''Blind Freddy'' could see that his old team had tanked in 2009.

But McLean himself would never have appeared on that Monday night program for July 30 if not for two overlapping pieces of happenstance: one was that Nathan Jones, his former teammate, had withdrawn from the guest slot in a late change.

''Nathan Jones was our preferred guest and we were waiting until the last minute because indications were that he was happy to do it, but that fell through,'' said host and ex-Melbourne and Sydney great Gerard Healy. The choice of replacement - McLean - was prompted by the winning goal Brock had kicked two days earlier against Richmond. McLean had kicked a goal from about 53 metres out, on the boundary line before the Great Southern Stand, with a mere 42 seconds remaining in the match. Carlton had trailed by two points to that point.

As the replay suggests, McLean had marked and played on quickly and was not even trying to kick a goal. Seven commentator Brian Taylor noted that the distance was beyond the Blue's capabilities. Rather, McLean was sending a speculative kick to the top of the goal square, where Carlton forward Levi Casboult jockeyed for position with his opponent Jayden Post, who would be delisted by the Tigers at season's end.

Post did not stay back in the goal square. Instead he followed Casboult, who led him outside the goal square. McLean's kick cleared both players - despite Casboult nearly touching it - before the ball bounced once on the edge of the square, and - in one of those random strokes of good/ill fortune - continued on in a straight line for the match-deciding goal.

Healy confirmed it was this goal - the result of the failure of Post or any other Tiger to touch the ball - that prompted his program to enlist McLean at the last minute.

''He kicked the winning goal and it flagged to the world that he was not the finished footballer that people had him pencilled in as. It was a good phoenix-rising-from-the-ashes story.''

Would On the Couch have made McLean its first interchange for Jones without that goal? ''No. The goal was the signal to us that he was a good story.''

Healy said at the top of the program that he wanted to find out why McLean, who had donated significantly to Melbourne's Debt Demolition, had left the club not long after. ''I was always bewildered as to why a bloke who was donating $15,000 one minute was leaving the next.''

Jones didn't want to talk, McLean did - and talk he did. Then, others were forced to talk - 800 pages and 58 interviews ensued. The vault was opened. Only now has it been closed.

This story The goal that undid the Dees first appeared on WA Today.