In 1996, two teams in the Australian Football League (AFL) were debating of a merger between the clubs.

The team that could have been
Melbourne following 2000 loss
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These teams were the Melbourne Demons and the Hawthorn Hawks. Melbourne were playing terrible throughout the 1996 season and were also in financial troubles. On the other hand, there was Hawthorn, which was playing not as bad as the Demons, but were in larger financial troubles. The merger was come at by a storm of fury by both sides. An anti-merger group was created by life time supporters of Melbourne, Mark and Anthony Jenkins and George Zagon. Their group, called the Demon alternative, caused the pro-mergers a lot of strife during the debates. On the day of the vote however, it turned out that the Hawks members stood against the merger and the Melbourne supports stood alongside it. But this is the story of the Melbourne Hawks, the team that could have been.

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Following the first weeks of the pro and anti-merger crowd, a small anti-merger group by the name of the Demon Alternative stood up to challenge pro side. This group however was met with ridicule, and was pushed to the side following a huge pro-merger ad campaign aimed at the Demons fans. They could not get as many as 100 supporters to help their caus,e and after a few more days, the group became defunct. However, on the Hawks side the story was different; the anti-merger crowed had rallied behind Don Scott, a respected Hawthorn Footballer and the creater of Operation Payback. The group was not like the Demon Alternative as they held a giant fanbase and the group was joined by widley known Hawthorn Players. Their downfall however came in 2 ways; their financial backing, which was only aided by small name businessmen throughout the city of Melbourne, and the a large campaign promoting the merger. The group continued to hold on, but their membership was fading. More and more businessmen, fans and players were throwing themselves behind the pro-merger group. Finally, the voting day had arrived. The pro-merger crowd held enormous meetings at Melbourne Park and West End. During one of the speeches, a anti-merger crowd showed themselves to be resistent to the idea of the merger. During one speech, Don Scott lifted up a mock-up of the Melbourne Hawks jumper, and proceeding to rip off a Velcro hawk and yellow V-neck to reveal a Melbourne jumper underneath. This was largely in-effectual, and when the votes were counted, the Melbourne members voted 4,974 to 1,934 and the Hawthorn members 4,752 to 3,330. The merger had won, and in 1997, the Melbourne Hawks hit the footballing stage.




  • Ridley, Ian: "Urge to Merge: The Power, the People, the President and the Money", crown content, 2002. ISBN 1-74095-002-X.

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