Main content

Melbourne's punt on Dom Tyson pays off despite early disaster

Dom Tyson can't wait to build on his impressive first season in red and blue - ${keywords}
Dom Tyson can't wait to build on his impressive first season in red and blue
Roosy (coach Paul Roos) was really good in that period. He just said ‘take your time, build back into it and get your body right'
Dom Tyson
LAST year, less than a week ahead of his first training session with his new club Melbourne, Dom Tyson went for a run.
 
Carrying his new program in his head, he went to Camberwell sports ground with good mate and former GWS teammate Adam Tomlinson.
 
The pair waited for a local cricket match to end before going out onto the ground for a kick.
 
Then, with a brief warm-up behind him, Tyson decided to tag along with Tomlinson and began to do some 150m sprints. 
 
Just 60m into his fourth 150, Tyson felt a sharp twinge in his hamstring.
 
"[Tomlinson] is a bit fitter and stronger and faster than me and I was trying to keep up and probably didn't warm up as well," Tyson said.
 
He hoped it was just a bad cramp but he knew he was being optimistic.
 
He sought out the club physiotherapist Gary Nicholls and the news was not great.
 
Tyson had injured the hamstring graft that took place during an operation a year earlier to fix his posterior cruciate ligament. 
 
It was not great timing and the then 20-year-old was conscious it was "not a great look".
 
Just weeks earlier Melbourne had traded its valuable No.2 draft pick for Tyson and pick No.9 - which it used to recruit Christian Salem - as well as swapping some later selections.
 
"I was probably a bit worried as I had just come to a new club and straight away I had got injured, and it wasn't even in formal training," Tyson said.
 
But he was quickly reassured that his coach was, like him, not the panicking type.
 
"Roosy (coach Paul Roos) was really good in that period," Tyson said. "He just said ‘take your time, build back into it and get your body right’.”
 
In essence, the coach told his recruit not to stress.
 
By Christmas, Tyson was back running and by the first round of the NAB Challenge, he was in the middle.
 
He did not miss a beat for the rest of the season, showing toughness to play 22 games after suffering a finger tendon injury in round nine.
 
He even resisted an offer to finish his season early, when surgeons suggested he have a season ending-operation on his finger after round 18.
 
After checking there was no risk he would do extra damage, Tyson said thanks but no thanks, preferring to play every game, proving to himself as much as others his resilience.
 
However, the laconic Tyson describes his decision in a more self-effacing way.
 
"I was just enjoying my footy and didn't feel ready to wrap it up at round 18. We had four wins and I felt like there was a bit to prove still," Tyson said.
 
But those close to the onballer say he was keen to see the season through after playing 10 games in his first season at GWS and just three in his second.
 
Dom Tyson produced an outstanding first season with Melbourne despite a slow start. Picture: AFL Media





That he managed to achieve so much after the delayed start to the pre-season showed his quality. If he had a point to prove, he did so superbly.
 
He was runner-up in Melbourne's best and fairest and polled 11 Brownlow votes. He was the highest vote-getter in that medal from the 2011 AFL Draft, when the Giants chose him at No.3.
 
He also sat among midfield contemporaries in his age bracket at the end of the count with Dyson Heppell, 14 votes, Dion Prestia, 13 votes and Jackson Macrae, 10 votes alongside Tyson.
 
He was twice best on ground in losing teams - against Port Adelaide and against North Melbourne - showing he could be at his best against the best. Both Port and the Kangaroos finished top four.
 
Tyson said he probably didn't hit his straps until round seven, taking time to build his fitness and becoming used to his new teammates. He then concedes he had a flat patch before coming with a rush at the end.
 

He has good friends at the Giants and grew up at the club in many ways but the former Trinity Grammar student says returning to his hometown helped his football.
 
"Probably the reason I had a better year of footy this season compared to the other two was I was back at home and just relaxing," Tyson said. 

"Up there you are close mates with everyone at the Giants but I guess you are training together, you're driving home together, you're having dinner together, you're going for coffee, you're chilling out. Although you've got plenty more to bond over than just footy, you're up there for footy so invariably you end up talking footy and overthinking things."
 
He has rediscovered the joys of living at home, not having to think about dinner or other domestic duties.  Although he recently bought a home, he is no rush to move out.
 
"I feel like I've gone backwards actually in [terms of] maturity and independence," Tyson jokes. "[In Sydney] I was probably cooking every night and cleaning."
 
Tyson's football can be sublime to watch. He is one of those types who would easily find space in a car boot, moving through traffic like he's on a Vespa and distributing the ball to the advantage of teammates.
 
Although he reminds watchers of former Brisbane Lions champion Simon Black, Tyson likes to classify himself as an inside/outside type player and admits his favourite players to watch are Scott Pendlebury and Nick Dal Santo - left-footers like him.
 
But at just 21, he knows he is not yet in their class and has an enormous amount of development ahead.
 
He wants to improve his running power and be quicker on the spread.
 
He also knows that the team can't just expect to get better.
 
"Ultimately you just want to taste success," Tyson said. "It's something we crave."
 
Four wins in 2014 was nowhere near a satisfactory return and many home truths were spoken during the final 10 games of the season, when Melbourne went winless.
 
"As our form dipped we had some confronting meetings which were beneficial but it probably takes time still for it to kick in," Tyson said.
 
"At the end of the day you can say as much as you like but if you are not implementing it and performing it on gameday it is a bit irrelevant.”


Although the Demons had improved their two-way running, their skills too often let them down.
 
Tyson says the team will be working on its ball use and expects improved options up forward with Jeff Garlett joining the team, Jesse Hogan being fit and natural improvement expected from Dean Kent and others.
 
It has also added depth to the midfield through Christian Petracca, Angus Brayshaw, Aaron Vandenberg and Ben Newton.
 
But Tyson also knows the job for Melbourne only gets harder from here.
 
"It's not [always] a natural progression. You sort of dig in and look at where we can get better as a team," Tyson said.
 
The hiccups are behind him. He has proved he can play. He is just 21. The coach respects him.
 
Tyson has proved a good choice.
 
This article was written for Melbourne's club magazine Demonland
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs