AFL draw revealed: Dees face horror start
MELBOURNE'S long journey back towards respectability has been hit with the hardest possible start.
The Demons' 2020 campaign will begin with the most daunting road trip in footy - West Coast at Optus Stadium.
Simon Goodwin's side will face a strengthened Eagles outfit on Sunday, March 22 in a Round 1 clash that will mark Tim Kelly's West Coast debut.
New Melbourne winger Ed Langdon will return to the ground he played on for Fremantle, while Adam Tomlinson will also play his first Demons game in the west.
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The game has been scheduled for 3.20pm local time in what could be a hot afternoon for a Dees side under some heat after a disappointing 2019.
The Demon's horror start was revealed in the 2020 Round 1 fixture obtained ahead of Thursday's full release.
Four-time Hawthorn premiership player Grant Birchall could come face-to-face with his old mates as early as the Brisbane Lions' first game.
The Lions will play Hawthorn at the MCG on Sunday at 3.20pm. Birchall, who turns 32 in January, signed a one-year deal with the Lions earlier this month as a free agent.
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Another Hawk great, Luke Hodge, likely to be plotting against his old side from the Brisbane coaches box as an assistant.
St Kilda will unveil its arsenal of trade acquisitions against North Melbourne earlier the same day in an evenly-matched game against North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium.
New coaches Brett Ratten and Rhyce Shaw will match wits in a game likely to mark the Saints debuts of Brad Hill, Zak Jones, Dougal Howard, Dan Butler and Paddy Ryder.
St Kilda's 2018 top draft pick Max King and Kangaroos recruit Aiden Bonar could also feature.
Joe Daniher's first AFL game since his failed move to Sydney will come at Marvel Stadium on Saturday afternoon when Essendon hosts Fremantle, who will roll out recruits James Aish and Blake Acres.
Carlton has retained a foothold in the season-opener and will again face premier Richmond at the MCG on Thursday, March 19.
The clash will showcase Eddie Betts' first game back in the navy blue, while the Blues are hopeful of being able to select Jack Martin.
Two of the best midfields in the competition will face-off on Friday night, with the Western Bulldogs and Collingwood meeting in a blockbuster under the roof at Marvel.
Josh Bruce and Alex Keath shape as important Dogs debutants for coach Luke Beveridge in what could be a Round 1 sellout.
A new-look Adelaide side under Matthew Nicks will host Sydney at Adelaide Oval in the Saturday twilight slot.
GWS welcome Geelong on Saturday night, with the match to be a double-header with the AFLW.
Further north, Gold Coast will play Port Adelaide at Metricon Stadium.