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Bernie Vince boards the Melbourne bus


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Former Crow Bernie Vince has shown early signs of settling in well at Melbourne; coach Paul Roos named him among the best afield in the club’s first practice game.

The popular 129-gamer was one of the most popular players at the Crows until he was “pushed out the door”, a victim of the Crows draft difficulties arising from the Kurt Tippett sanctions.

He made it clear before he left Adelaide that he had wanted to stay, but the forced move may play out well for Vince.

Melbourne has struggled for years – but a new coach and new management has boosted their prospects.

At the club’s annual general meeting on Monday night, chief executive Peter Jackson said the football department under senior coach Paul Roos would be bolstered by almost a million dollars as the key to rebuilding the club on and off the field.

Jackson – who was given several rounds of applause from Melbourne members in attendance – oversaw a nightmare $1.7 million operating loss last year after being given the club’s recovery job.

His strategy to build Melbourne back up starts with on-field investment.

“We have to put football first, it’s our core business, it’s our reason for being and it’s what we have to get right,” he said.

He told members the opening three rounds, losing to Port Adelaide, Essendon and West Coast by an average of more than a hundred points, savaged the club’s finances.

“When we started looking at all this around May, June, we couldn’t really make any changes to mitigate that loss,” Jackson said.

As the rot on the field set in, the Demons lost more than a million dollars through a lack of corporate and member support, with an average attendance dropping from 31,000 to just 23,000.

Adding to the pain was a bill of $780,000 towards the AFL “tanking” investigation and the club’s restructure that left Melbourne $580,000 out of pocket even after a $1.45 million AFL handout was factored in.

Over the past two seasons 12,000 members have failed to renew their membership, which Jackson said he understood.

“I get why. We as a football club have breached their trust,” he said.

“We need to earn back their trust and the only way to do that is perform.”

Roos’ arrival has coincided with an upturn in membership – with the club reporting 12 per cent more members compared to this time last year.

Despite the positivity emanating from the room, Jackson did issue a warning.

“We’re coming off a very low base, we are a two and twenty club,” Jackson said, referring to the club’s horror 2013 win-loss.

Paradoxically, Roos revealed the club’s sick state was one of the attractions.

“The worse it sounded the more interested I got,” he said.

“Now I’m standing here being extremely excited and very passionate about this football club in a very short period of time.”

Overseeing his first pre-season since 2010, Roos reported Jack Watts and new signings Dom Tyson, Bernie Vince and Daniel Cross were best afield in last weekend’s first practice game.

As the Crows struggle with the impact of their draft penalties, Vince might have boarded the bus that’s in the fast lane.

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