FIFTEEN wins in a row.
For everyone with a connection to the Melbourne Football Club, that phrase is scarcely believable, even though they've lived through each of those thrilling victories dating back to round 20 last year.
It wasn't so long ago that the reigning premiers (yes, another scarcely believable description) couldn't win two games in a row, let alone five. Or 10. Or 15.
From round 15, 2011 until round five, 2016, Melbourne did not win successive games.
Having started this winning run, which helped deliver the drought-breaking 2021 premiership, the Demons seemingly can't stop.
At 15 victories in a row, this streak is entering all-time territory. It now ranks among the 15 longest winning streaks in VFL/AFL history, level with five others.
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However, this Melbourne side has some distance to go before rivalling the all-time leader – the 1952-53 Geelong team coached by Reg Hickey, which racked up an incredible 23 successive victories.
They're three wins clear of the next best trio on 20 wins in a row – Kevin Sheedy's famous 2000 Essendon side; the powerful 1928-29 Collingwood side known as 'The Machine'; and Leigh Matthews' brilliant Brisbane team in 2001-02, which coincidentally succeeded Sheedy's Dons as the AFL's best side.
While those history-makers are some way ahead, few would bet against Simon Goodwin's men making it at least 17 straight wins. Melbourne travels to Perth this Sunday to take on the embattled West Coast, followed by a clash with struggling North Melbourne in round 10.
A streak of 17 victories puts the Demons firmly inside the all-time top 10. From there, the road to becoming record-breakers gets considerably more difficult.
Melbourne hosts fellow top-four contenders Fremantle and Sydney at the MCG in successive weeks, followed by a Queen's Birthday clash with Collingwood (MCG) and then a marquee game against flag rival Brisbane (MCG).
That would get the Demons to 21 wins. A trip to Adelaide to face the Crows looms in round 16 and if they win that, it's a drive down the highway to the Cattery, where Geelong faces the remarkable prospect of defending the club's 70-year-old record against the latest challenger.
If Melbourne equals the Cats' 23-game winning streak, it will have the chance to go clear at the top when it hosts Port Adelaide at TIO Traeger Park in Alice Springs in round 18.
A tantalising prospect for students of the game's history, to be sure. But as any Demons fan over the age of 10 would know all too well, there's a lot of footy to be played before then.
LONGEST VFL/AFL WINNING STREAKS
23 – Geelong (R12, 1952 to R13, 1953)
20 – Essendon (R1, 2000 to R20, 2000)
20 – Collingwood (SF, 1928 to R18, 1929)
20 – Brisbane (R10, 2001 to R4, 2002)
19 – St Kilda (R1, 2009 to R19, 2009)
19 – Melbourne (R15, 1955 to R13, 1956)
18 – Carlton (R10, 1995 to R2, 1996)
17 – Collingwood (R5,1903 to R2,1904)
16 – Essendon (R7, 1950 to R2, 1951)
16 – Essendon (R12, 1949 to R5, 1950)
15 – Geelong (R6, 2007 to R20, 2007)
15 – Geelong ( R10, 2008 to PF, 2008)
15 – Essendon (R07, 1981 to R21,1981)
15 – Carlton (R16, 1907 to R11, 1908)
15* – Melbourne (R20, 2021 to R8, 2022)
MELBOURNE'S ROAD TO THE RECORD
R9 v West Coast at Optus Stadium
R10 v North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium
R11 v Fremantle at the MCG
R12 v Sydney at the MCG
R13 v Collingwood at the MCG
R14 – Bye
R15 v Brisbane at the MCG
R16 v Adelaide at Adelaide Oval
R17 v Geelong at GMHBA Stadium
R18 v Port Adelaide at TIO Traeger Park