Former Western Bulldogs coach and Melbourne assistant coach Brendan McCartney admits his loyalties lie with both sides in tonight's AFL Grand Final in Perth, but said he is leaning slightly towards the Demons.
The current coach of North Ballarat told The Courier it's been enjoyable to watch the side grow and mature.
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"Slight leaning to Melbourne because of a personal friendship with Simon (Goodwin), we're good mates ...," he said.
"Having been part of that build where they were a club that not only didn't know how to play that well, they didn't know how to train ... by that I mean their standards and what they thought was acceptable ...
"To help put that in place and play a small part and see these young guns of the game come in as babies ... and to see them get themselves up and going ... (has me) leaning slightly to Melbourne."
Despite inconsistent 2019 and 2020 seasons due to injuries and COVID-19 following it's 2018 preliminary final appearance, McCartney said he always felt that Melbourne were not far away from making the jump to the competition's elite.
"It's been a steady but purpose-built rise to the top," he said.
Current Bulldogs' leaders Tom Liberatore, Easton Wood, Jason Johannisen, Jack Macrae, Lachie Hunter and Marcus Bontempelli all began their careers under McCartney's watch between 2012 and 2014.
He has enjoyed watching them grow into the stars they are today.
"Just probably see some pride and joy in them replicating what they did as youngsters, they played like that in under-18's, they were dominant," he said.
"It takes all young players four or five, sometimes six or seven years before they can do that consistently well at AFL level.
"It's sort of comparative with when we won some flags at Geelong ... some of the great players in that era were eight to 12 years into their careers before they tasted premiership success."
McCartney has tipped Melbourne to win by 20 points, with Christian Petracca his favourite for the Norm Smith Medal.
He added Christian Salem is a smokey for the award.
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