I was in the grandstands for Melbourne’s Elimination Final against Geelong.

Truthfully, I haven’t been to too many Demons games at the MCG over the last ten years. So it was a real pleasure to head along with my oldest son, Kalani, who hadn’t yet been to a Finals game at the G’.

Jeff White exclusive insight 2

A Melbourne fan, who recognised me at the game, came over and started talking to Kalani and I.

The fan turned to Kalani and asked him how old he was.

“I’m eleven”, Kalani replied. And the fan turns to me and says, “Oh, so he never saw your days in the Finals.”

And that’s when it hit me. He was spot on.

Not only did Kalani never have an opportunity to watch his Dad play in the Finals, he wasn’t even born when the Dee’s last played in September.

So there we were. Demons jumpers on, beanie and scarf alongside 95,000 other footy heads; I was blown away and got the sense what it used to be like for the Melbourne fans when I was playing footy, and how long they have been made to wait to get back here.

Jeff White exclusive insight 2

And as a past player, and now fan of this wonderful club, I’ve felt the hurt too.

It’s been difficult to navigate through this 12 year exodus. To think last year at the 20 minute mark of the last quarter in the final round we were in the Finals, and then by the final siren were negated to 9th on the premiership table.

I feel as a fan and as someone who’s been involved in that system for a while, that the club has been infamous for it’s inconsistency.

Every time we took a step forward, I felt we’ve had to take two steps back; it’s been an absolute roller coaster of a ride.

For so long, it’s been all words and no action.

So a lot of credit goes out to Paul Roos, and CEO Peter Jackson, for how they have turned this football club around and re-directed it towards chasing success.

There has been a total reversal, and it is a massive credit to everyone involved in the organisation right now.

As an ex-Melbourne player, and fan of the club, I couldn’t be prouder of the strides that have been taken.

The playing group and coaching staff, deserve to be in the final four, but I know that won’t satisfy them. They want to book a ticket to the big dance. And so they should – their best football is more than capable of beating the final three teams on the biggest stage of them all.

Jeff White exclusive insight 2

I want nothing more than for these 22 players, to experience what myself and my teammates had the pleasure of experiencing when we played in Melbourne’s last Grand Final against Essendon in 2000.

The whole week was phenomenal. Two Melbourne-based clubs with rich histories, made for the most monumental occasion.

I was living with David Neitz and Jeff Farmer at the time. I will never forget when we headed out to a restaurant in Brighton on the Tuesday evening before the Grand Final.

Everyone we passed knew who we were; they either wanted to say hello, shake our hand, wish us luck or let us know how many goals we were going to lose by (good ol’ Essendon supporters!).

By the time we reached the restaurant, I turned to the waiter and asked if there were any quiet spaces where we could sit.

We find our way to the furthest table at the back, sit down for what would only have been three minutes before a bottle of wine is brought over with three glasses.

I remember telling the waiter, “Sorry, we didn’t order that wine.”

He said “No, no, the gentleman through there has ordered the bottle of wine for you and he has asked for me to let you three know you should celebrate, you made it to Grand Final week.”

So we look over and it is none other than Sam Newman and we just started pissing ourselves laughing.

So he walks over and he says “Good luck this week” all that sort of stuff.

We had a bit if a chuckle out about it, but he was right. With all the media attention, parade and fan engagement, it’s important to soak up every second.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 14: Simon Goodwin, Senior Coach of the Demons celebrates with Dom Tyson of the Demons during the 2018 AFL First Semi Final match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Melbourne Demons at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on September 14, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 14: Simon Goodwin, Senior Coach of the Demons celebrates with Dom Tyson of the Demons during the 2018 AFL First Semi Final match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Melbourne Demons at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on September 14, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

The pressure will be there on game day anyway, so why not enjoy the total Grand Final experience.

By the time Saturday came around, I was ready for the big game.

Normally I would drive with someone else to the game, but on this occasion I went straight there by myself.

When I arrived to the stadium and jumped out of the car, the first people I saw as fate would have it, were my parents.

Mum was bawling her eyes out, absolute bawling her eyes out.

I laughed, “Mum, this is the biggest game of my life and you’re already crying.”

My dad starts crying and I’m like “Come on, guys, get it together. I am going to play the biggest game of my life in front of a hundred thousand people.”

They were just so ecstatic, so very proud.

I look back now and I realise how much it meant, not just for them, but for all the Melbourne supporters who have stood by their team, through thick and thin.

While the result did not go our way that day, I want this playing group to be able to experience what we did and to go one step further than we could.

They deserve it, but more importantly so too do the fans. They’ve waited far too long.

Of course, the only focus right now has to be West Coast.

As all players know, you never plan for future opponents, only those that are in front of you, and the Eagles would be the only thing that Melbourne would be thinking about.

I’m confident they have what it takes to earn one more week.