Gawn leads Demons to historic AFL flag

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The legendary Ron Barassi is no longer Melbourne's most recent premiership captain, with Max Gawn leading the Demons to grand final glory for the first time since 1964.

The towering ruckman has helped break the club's 'Norm Smith curse' with Melbourne powering to a stunning 74-point AFL victory over the Western Bulldogs at Perth's Optus Stadium.

Wearing the late, great Jim Stynes' No.11 on his jumper, Gawn lifted up the cup with coach Simon Goodwin - 57 years after Barassi and Smith did it together, long before the VFL was renamed the AFL.

After being the main man in Melbourne's preliminary final smashing of Geelong, Gawn took more of a back seat as midfield star Christian Petracca ran riot in claiming the Norm Smith Medal.

But five goals, nearly all of them spectacular, in a once-in-a-career performance against the Cats was always going to be an impossible act for Gawn to follow.

The 29-year-old endured some grim early years at Melbourne, spending nine seasons at the club before even getting a shot at finals.

He was drafted in 2009 and was not on the end of a winning ledger in a season until 2017.

But after two years out of September action following the 2018 rise up the ladder, Gawn has been a key figure in the drought-breaking triumph.

He paid tribute to key Demons figures, who are no longer alive, including Stynes, Dean Bailey and Troy Broadbridge.

"The list goes on," Gawn told Channel Seven about the fallen Melbourne greats.

"What Neale Daniher is going through at the moment, these guys are the real heroes, we are just out here and trying to play our role."

Gawn's opposing skipper Marcus Bontempelli was the Bulldogs' best in a losing cause.

After a quiet first term, Bontempelli inspired the Bulldogs to a stunning fightback by kicking three goals.

He appeared headed for Bulldogs immortal status, aged just 25, when they led by 19 points early in the third quarter.

But not even the star midfielder's heroics could prevent the Demons landslide that was about to come.

Bontempelli is barely halfway through his career and it would be a brave person to not think he will be part of a second premiership at the club and a first one as captain in coming years.

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