THERE was once a time Mitch Hannan had dreams of lifting an AFL premiership cup for Melbourne.

Running into open goal to sink Geelong in the 2018 elimination final, the then 24-year-old sent Demons fans into raptures en route to a preliminary final.

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Look out, Hannan is away

Mitch Hannan off to the races and scores

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Fast-forward three years and Hannan finds himself on the opposing side and looking to win his second piece of silverware in the red, white and blue. And his second against a Demons contingent.

In 2016, Hannan was part of the Footscray side that won the VFL Grand Final alongside some familiar faces over the Demons' VFL affiliate Casey Scorpions.

Having won a Victorian Amateurs premiership for St Bernard's in 2015, Hannan got his chance at state league level and booted one goal in the Bulldogs' 31-point win.

Teammates that day included Bailey Dale, Bailey Williams and Roarke Smith – all AFL-listed players. On Saturday, that trio will join Hannan in trying to emulate what the Dogs' AFL side did just six days after the 2016 VFL triumph and win a flag at the highest level.


Hannan spent four years in red and blue after he was drafted at pick No.46 in the 2016 NAB AFL Draft before requesting a trade back to the Dogs on a two-year deal last year.

His teammates at the Demons included Clayton Oliver and Alex Neal-Bullen, two players who played in that 2016 VFL decider and will suit up on Saturday night. Current AFL-listed Demons Joel Smith and Sam Weideman also featured, but they won't play on Saturday.

Bailey Dale of the Bulldogs marks the ball in front of Clayton Oliver of Casey during the 2016 VFL Grand Final. Picture: AFL Photos

Other prominent names on Marvel Stadium that day included Casey-turned-Brisbane ruckman Oscar McInerney. Demons half-back Christian Salem was named to play but was forced to withdraw, having not recovered in time from a concussion sustained in the VFL preliminary final win.

For the Dogs, Lin Jong made a sterling return from a shoulder injury to win the Norm Goss Medal as best afield, while the side also included ex-Brisbane captain Jed Adcock, All-Australian Will Minson and current North Melbourne ruckman Tom Campbell.

GRAND FINAL PREVIEW Demons v Bulldogs, stats that matter, who wins and why

Footscray was coached by current Dogs AFL assistant and West Coast premiership player Ash Hansen.

Mitch Hannan of the Bulldogs attempts to mark over Jack Hutchins (left) and Mitch White of the Scorpions during the 2016 VFL Grand Final. Picture: AFL Photos



B: Jed Adcock, Jordan Staley, Brad Lynch
HB: Bailey Dale, Bailey Williams, Roarke Smith
C: Lauchlan Dalgleish, Lin Jong, Jordan Russell
HF: Mitch Honeychurch, Koby Stevens, Nick Jamieson
F: Lukas Webb, Tom Campbell, Declan Hamilton
R: Will Minson, Anthony Barry, Liam Nash
I/C: Ben Long, Alexander Greenwood, Mitch Hannan, Will Hayes, Andrew Tashevski-Beckwith


B: Mitchell White, Colin Garland, Declan Keilty
HB: Viv Michie, Jack Hutchins, Lynden Dunn
C: Matt Jones, Ben Kennedy, Jack Grimes
HF: Dean Terlich, Tim Smith, Ben Newton
F: Alex Neal-Bullen, Sam Weideman, Liam Hulett
R: Jake Spencer, Jack Trengove, Clayton Oliver
I/C: Oscar McInerney, Angus Scott, James Munro, Joel Smith, Aloysio Ferreira