Proud Demons no longer a laughing stock

Nobody is more proud of the current Melbourne team than past Demons captain James McDonald.
Nobody is more proud of the current Melbourne team than past Demons captain James McDonald.

Former Melbourne captain James McDonald says it hurt when the Demons were considered a laughing stock of the competition and he's proud to see the way the club has rebounded.

Melbourne have the chance to end their 57-year premiership drought when they take on the Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium on September 25.

McDonald played 251 games for Melbourne from 1997-2010, captaining the club for his last two years.

He came out of retirement in 2012 to play 13 games for GWS, before hanging up the boots for good.

The Demons were the ultimate yo-yo side during McDonald's time there.

The club finished in the bottom three on six occasions during that 14-year stretch, which included three wooden spoons.

During that same period, Melbourne played in six finals series with their best result being a grand final appearance in 2000.

McDonald's last four seasons at Melbourne were particularly brutal, with the club finishing 14th, last, last and 12th.

"There's probably times we've been a bit of a laughing stock of the competition ... and there was probably a point when we weren't relevant in the competition," McDonald told AAP.

"Not all the time but sometimes, so that hurts."

The arrival of Paul Roos as coach ahead of the 2014 campaign helped set the foundations for the success the club is now experiencing.

McDonald feels like Melbourne have now won back the respect of the football world, also the trust of their fans.

"The Demons have been consistent all year," McDonald said.

"In the past when you talk to Melbourne supporters they probably feel like they've been let down a little bit over the time when you build their hopes up.

"The club off field are in a good spot, the playing group is very good, even playing list at the moment. They're pretty young, so they should be able to capitalise. But you still need a bit of luck on the day."

McDonald missed the 60-point grand final loss to Essendon in 2000 after suffering a knee injury just three rounds before the finals.

It was a bitter blow that McDonald still reflects on from time to time.

"Probably more so now that they're back in the grand final," he said.

"When I presented a jumper to James Jordon in round one, I said to the players that I'm envious because you blokes are in a position to play in a premiership.

"Any AFL player who didn't play in a premiership - it always eats away at you a little bit. But you can't do anything about it.

"I'm a fan now. I'm cheering them on. The premiership would be the cherry on top."

Australian Associated Press