Melbourne players go through their paces at Gosch's Paddock before their preliminary final clash with West Coast. Photo: Michael Thompson

Finals fever: Demon days grip Melbourne

Melbourne have geared up for their preliminary final against West Coast on Saturday night, completing their final training session at Gosch’s Paddock on Wednesday before their flight to Perth for their clash with the West Coast Eagles.

At least 1000 people gathered to watch the Demons prepare for their first preliminary final in 18 years, with spots for both their preliminary final clash, as well as the VFL Grand Final side with their affiliate the Casey Demons, up for grabs.

The Demons remain the hottest property in football after their 33-point victory over Hawthorn last Friday night, which followed their 29-point victory against Geelong the week before, leaving them with their strongest chance in years to break their 54-year premiership drought.

All eyes were on midfielder Bernie Vince, attempting to make his return from a collarbone injury he sustained earlier in the season. Coach Simon Goodwin confirmed that Vince will play in the VFL Grand Final, but added that should the Demons get through to their AFL equivalent, he would remain in the frame for a shock return to the side.

Likewise, attention was focused on Joel Smith, who is seen as the likeliest player to break into a Demons’ line-up which has remained settled throughout the finals series so far.

Smith, who gathered six possessions and laid eight tackles in Casey’s preliminary final win against Essendon last Saturday, is set to fly to Perth for a potential return to the side after suffering a collarbone injury against the Gold Coast Suns in Round 20.

The winner of the Demons’ clash with the Eagles will play the winner of Collingwood or Richmond in the AFL Grand Final at the MCG on September 29.