In 1869 The North Melbourne Football Club was born. To begin with it was nothing more than a group of players and helpers who came together to organise some team sport during the winter.
None of the details of the first historic game has been kept. So we don’t know the players’ names nor the teams the played against, but the site of the match was Royal Park near the Zoo.
1870 was the year regular premiership matches were played for the first time. The results were not reported in the newspapers.
In the 1874 season North Melbourne and St. Kilda were promoted it senior status and the games were starting to be reported in the newspapers.
The first event reported was the first Annual Meeting which was held at Clayton’s Hotel, Victoria Street on Thursday 2 April 1874 with about 50 members being present.
In 1875 North played in blue knickerbockers, white and blue hooped jumpers, cap and hose. They played 18 games. In 1876 North amalgamated with Albert Park. In 1877 the club emerged as “Hotham”. The next forty years saw the club establish as a football club established as a football club of major significance. It helped to found and developed the Victorian Football Association in which it continued following the breakaway formation of the Victorian Football League in 1896. It also reverted to its original name.
It won two premierships in 1903 and 1904 and the club tried to join the League in 1907, it failed and was expelled from the Association.
The Club re-formed and regained admission it the Association and went on to become one of the great forces the Association has known. It won premierships in 1970 and 1914 and then established the longest winning sequence in Association history winning premierships in 1915 and 1918. In 1921 it tried to join the League again, it failed again and continued to play in the Association.
After two unsuccessful attempts to enter the League the North Melbourne Football Club with Footscray and Hawthorn was invited to join the Victorian Football league early in 1925.
Following a brilliant start against Geelong, who won the Premiership that year, North had a good opening season.
However for the next twelve years the Club did not play well. Its performance declined and its financial position was weak. For a few years in the mid-thirties the Club went close to folding. It was only through the hard work of the Committee, supporters and a large loan from the League that it was able to continue.
The seasons 1938 – 1954 the club was re-born and again became a League power. Prior to and during the Second World War the Club under the VFL entered the final four for the first time.
It gained the minor premiership in 1849 and played in the Grand Final in 1950 (losing to Essendon). In 1954 the club again participated in the Finals, and this also the end of the Club’s greatness as a mainly local Club.
With the exception of 1958 the season stretching from the mid 1950’s to the mod 1960’s found North performing at the bottom half of the ladder.
During this phase the Club’s efforts on the field were overshadowed the two struggles which dominated the Administrations activities.
The first was the Club’s difficulty from going from a local Club to a semi-professional one.
The second was the Club’s home ground for its matches. This led to North playing their home games at Coburg in 1965. This only lasted for one year. North won the Night premiership in 1965.
In 1966 North re-established itself firmly at the Arden Street ground once again. North won the Night Premiership again in 1966.
The Club began to focus on creating a strong administration, with a big emphasis on a youth and new ideas and the development of a strong and professional club.
In 1969 the Club established the North Melbourne Social Club. When Allen Aylett (a past player and my mother’s dentist!!!!) was appointed President of the Club in 1971 it was to be the start of a very successful decade. In 1971 North finished ninth, there were 12 teams in the competition.
In 1972 North finished on the bottom of the ladder with one win. North won their only game of the season beating South Melbourne by five points.
In 1973 Keith Grieg won North’s first Brownlow medal and North finished 6th on the ladder.
In 1974 Keith Greig won his second medal and North finished 2nd on the ladder. In the Grand Final Richmond (128) beat North(87).
In 1975 having lost the Grand Final and then six of the first nine games North President Allen Aylett and coach Ron Barassi must have wondered whether the estimated $1 million and the buckets of blood, sweat and tears expended had been worth it.
North recovered their horror start of 1975 and went on to win their first Premiership beating Hawthorn(67) to North (122).
In 1976 North finished 3rd and were beaten by hawthorn(100) to North(70) in the Grand Final.
In 1977 North drew with Collingwood in the Grand Final. They played again the next week North(151) beating Collingwood(124).
In 1978 North finished on top of the ladder and were beaten by Hawthorn(121) to North(103). Malcome Blight won the Brownlow Medal. In 1980 North won the Night Premiership.
In 1983 North finished on top of the ladder, but lost their Preliminary Final to Essendon.
In 1984 North shifted from the Arden Street Oval to play all their home games at the MCG.
In 1989 Wayne Shimmelbusch took over as coach of the Club from John Kennedy and a young player from Wagga made his debut. His name is WAYNE CAREY! North were not to win a Grand Final again until 1996.
In 1994 North played in the Preliminary Final but were beaten on the siren but Geelong. Gary Ablett marked in the goal square with three seconds left and won the game for Geelong.
In 1995 North finished sixth on the ladder and were again beaten in the Preliminary Final by Carlton.
In 1996 North finished second on the ladder and won the Premiership.
The Club’s third premiership, the first in 18 years and the first since North became an MCG club. A senior premiership first for coach Denis Pagan and everyone of his players.
North worked very hard for this flag after being tossed out in the Preliminary final in 1994 and 1995. An empty shell shocked North walked off the MCG after a 10 goal defeat against Carlton in the 1995 Preliminary Final, but many of that beaten bunch were those who celebrated in 1996.
They set themselves a goal after that loss, and we saw the result on Grand Final day 1996. It was not an unexpected win.
The Roos started favourites and played ruthlessly in their two lead up finals. In 1996 North lost the battle to merge with Fitzroy but this made the Club all the more determined.
During 1996 the club was never lower that fourth. It was a dream season in football’s biggest season in footballs biggest year!!!
North did not get into a final again until 1998. North had won 10 games on the trot leading up to the finals and lost the most important game of all – the Grand Final. North were leading through the first half but kicked 2 goals 11 behinds in the second which let Adelaide come over the top of them. But in 1999 the Mighty Roos came back into another season with even more anger as the last! They were ruthless all year and ended up 2nd on the ladder after the Home and Away season. The Roos went on the win the Grand Final and got the name "Team of the Decade".
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