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1870's

Excerpts from The North Story, by Gerard Dowling

1870: Little is known about the 1870 season apart from it being the year that regular premiership matches were established for the first time.

In 1870 North Melbourne entered the premiership competition for the first time, and they won their opening encounter. The Australasian also mentions two of North Melbourne's games for the year; both against the Carlton United Club. While results for the second match are unavailable (24th September), but it is informed that the former was won by North Melbourne - scoring the only goal for the afternoon.

1871: The only discoverable reference to the club in 1871 came in The Australasian's summing up at the close of the season:

"Besides the Clubs already mentioned, there are a host of others around Melbourne, and if all their doings were reported there would be a list that would fill up a considerable space. So that all that can be done is to just mention the names of some that can be thought of at the present moment, viz Prince Alfred, Defiance, Meteor, All Saints, Leicester, North Melbourne, St Mary's, Victory, Albion, Argyle, Williamstown and so on."

1872: Notice of two impending matches is the mention that is made in the press about North's activities on the field. We are told that the North Melbourne Club were due to play Collingwood on 8 June, and Carlton's Second Twenty on 13 July.

There was a significant breakthrough in this season: for the very first time we come across details of the club's events off the field. In The Australasian we have details of the first club social function of which we have any knowledge today:

"The president of the Club, Mr R Alcock, presented the gift in a few appropriate words, to which (captain) Mr Fuhrhop feelingly replied."

1873: North Melbourne had a busy and successful season. According to the secretary's report, tabled at the club's annual meeting, North had played 14 matches during the course of 1873, and of these, seven had been won, six had been drawn and one lost. After only five years of existence, the North Melbourne Football Club was really starting to make its presence felt.

The Australasian claimed North Melbourne was "well up in junior ranks" and the blue and white of North Melbourne had already become "familiar in our mouths as household words".

1874: North Melbourne were promoted to senior status; formerly the club had been accorded the barest amount of publicity, but their graduation led to newspaper space being devoted to upcoming matches.

North Melbourne and St Kilda, making their debut as senior clubs that season, met on 23 May, the honours being divided, each team scoring one goal. North participated in 10 other engagements, during the course of which they scored a win and sustained a loss against Albert Park, and downed St Kilda at the second meeting.

North were beaten by Melbourne, but refused to meet for the second encounter that had been arranged. Furthermore, North played one draw with Carlton, while the second match remained unfinished owing to a quarrel which occurred during the course of play.

1875: During the year the North Melbourne football club boasted a grand total of 120 members. Harry Fuhrhop again had the honour of captaining the players in their blue knickerbockers, white and blue hooped guernseys, cap and hose.

The team's programme for the year was a fixture of 18 encounters, though none of these was against the Melbourne Football Club, with whom North Melbourne were still unfortunately at loggerheads.

1876: Of events in North Melbourne's first 125 seasons, none is perhaps so exceptional as that which transpired in 1876. Before the season commenced, North ceased to function and amalgamated with Albert Park.

Despite the name "Albert Park cum North Melbourne", the amalgamation was North-dominated, with Fuhrhop holding the captaincy and much of the team's strength coming from former North players.

The dramatic merger was to prove short-lived, and lasted no more than a year. It provided breathing space and allowed those responsible for the club's continuance to plan well for the future.

1877: The club re-emerged in 1877 under the name Hotham, which it retained until the local municipality became North Melbourne in 1887.

Football took a giant step forward with the establishment of its first controlling body. In view of the North Melbourne Football Club's achievements prior to the amalgamation with Albert Park, the re-formed club was accorded a place with the recognised first-class clubs, Melbourne, Geelong, Carlton, Albert Park, St Kilda, Essendon and East Melbourne.

What might be regarded as the initial VFA match was played between Hotham and Melbourne on the Melbourne ground on Saturday, 2 June 1877. The result was a draw with each side scoring one goal; Hotham's goalkicker on that occasion was a player named Thompson.

1878: The club was granted the use of the Madeline Street ground during 1878. This was quite close to their original playing area in the Royal Park, and occupied an area in the vicinity of the present Newman College in the University of Melbourne.

Hotham's captain that year was Jimmy Robertson, whom a contemporary commentator had rated as "the fastest man that plays".

1879: Hotham's senior twenty participated for the season in 14 engagements against other senior twenties, and played additional matches with junior teams of 25 players. Against the former, Hotham had an indifferent year, winning six, losing six and drawing two to place it fourth among the eight competing teams.

That year the first intercolonial match took place in Melbourne between Victoria and South Australia. Hotham representatives chosen to play for Victoria were Billy McLean, Jimmy Robertson, Arthur Ley and F. Lording.