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Drought-breaking AFL Demons feted in Perth

Photo: Twitter/Melbourne Football Club

It’s a grand old flag for Max Gawn and his merry Melbourne men and you can rest assured the Demons are celebrating it accordingly.

“It got big on me,” Gawn quipped of the festivities in Perth that followed his side claiming their first AFL premiership in 57 years.

And the party isn’t over yet for a Demons side eyeing sustained success after an eternity in the doldrums.

Gawn and his bleary-eyed charges continued the celebrations on Sunday as more than 1000 fans turned Perth’s Forrest Place into a sea of red and blue.

A morning thunderstorm failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the Demons faithful, who gathered early to watch a replay of Saturday’s 74-point Optus Stadium triumph on the big screen and erupted at key moments like they were seeing it all for the first time.

Former captain Garry Lyon took the stage to handle MC duties, having ridden the emotional wave of the past 24 hours as much as anyone.

“Halfway through the third quarter I was s****** myself but I tell you what, did they rally,” he told the appreciative crowd.

Chief executive Gary Pert and president Kate Roffey brought out the premiership cup, still marvelling at what the club had achieved.

With a record 52,421 members having already signed up this season, Pert expected that figure would “go through the roof” for the new premiers.

“We’ve sold nearly two years worth of merchandise since the siren went last night, so it’s a big thank you to you guys,” he said.

But there is no mistaking the real stars of the show.

One by one they file onto stage: a beaming Ben Brown, seventh-gamer Jake Bowey and midfielder Angus Brayshaw, “the epitome of selflessness” for Lyon.

Young ruckman Luke Jackson lopes over in sandals, looking a little worse for wear. James Harmes clutches a bottle of water, having been a unanimous best-afield in the post-game festivities.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest cheer of the day is reserved for the Demons’ inspirational premiership skipper.

A “Gaaawny” chant erupts as the 208cm cult hero takes the stage and gives the crowd a rev-up, relishing the moment.

Lyon becomes emotional as he speaks of Jim Stynes, a Melbourne hero who mentored Gawn before his untimely passing in 2012.

“When Jimmy left us I didn’t know if we’d get another influential leader like him,” Lyon said.

“But over the last couple of years I’ve seen someone emerge and the irony of the fact that he wears No.11 isn’t being lost on anyone.

“I see so much of Jim in this man, the way he leads, the way he’s selfless, the way he’s accepting and embracing.

“He goes down now in the history of this footy club as an out-and-out legend.”

Coach Simon Goodwin’s thoughts went to the Demons fans stuck in lockdown in Melbourne who had been unable to join in the party.

“I hope they’re sitting at home so proud of their team,” he said.

“We’re bringing the cup home, we’re going to celebrate with them and we’re going to do it again for them.”

Michael Ramsey – AAP

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