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VFL: Report Card - Round 16

North Melbourne notched a memorable comeback win, edging Coburg in a three-point thriller.

8:54am Jul 22, 2019

The run home takes a look at the remaining games for those in the finals mix.

8:37am Jul 22, 2019


Excerpts from The North Story, by Gerard Dowling

1910: In performance on the field, 1910 was a triumph for the North Melbourne Football Club. They swept through the first 10 matches undefeated, and concluded the 18 home and away rounds with 15 wins and a draw to take out the minor premiership.

North Melbourne progressed to the Grand Final to play against Brunswick, on Saturday, 8 October and North Melbourne Recreation Reserve. There was a ground record of 28,000 spectators to see North Melbourne triumph by 29 points over Brunswick to win their third VFA pennant.

1911: North Melbourne did not match their performance of the previous year, victorious in 14 of their 19 encounters and ending the season in third position after going down to Brunswick in the semi final.

It is worth noting that the North Melbourne team photograph for the year shows that the players had reverted to the traditional royal blue and white striped guernseys, and royal blue and white hooped socks.

1912: At the conclusion of the home and away matches, North found themselves opposed to Brunswick in a semi final. At the end of a close and tense struggle, they were inseparably locked, having played out a draw. The VFA ordered a rematch at the same oval two weeks later, and the impossible occurred; at the expiration of time both teams had played out another draw.

The semi finalists met for a third time; the remaining finals games on hold until there was a decisive result. All concerned were desperate for a result, and fortunately North Melbourne emerged victorious. However, they went down to Essendon in the Grand Final by just four points.

1912 also brought one man to the club who was to become the club's great team leader for their most dominant years in the Assocation. His name was Syd Barker.

1913: North Melbourne progressed to the Grand Final to play Footscray. Missing Barker, North had to cope with the fact that George Rawle was unable to play. Despite this depletion of ruck strength, North played well and in the dying stages of the match was clinging to a slim lead.

With moments left, Footscray's champion follower, Arthur Gregory, kicked a goal from a throw in 50 yards from goal. Soon after, the final bell sounded; Footscray winning by a solitary point.

1914: The 1914 season saw North Melbourne Football Club enter its most illustrious era. It also saw the players in a different uniform, navy blue jumper and socks with white shorts.

Prior to the finals, North had notched up 14 wins out of a total of 18 to take out the minor premiership. They then defeated Essendon by 31 points in the semi final to meet Footscray in the Grand Final. Unlike the year before, North Melbourne were too strong, running out victors by 35 points. The Age had the following to say:

"The winners by superior dash to the ball broke up the system of their opponents, who, instead of their usual marking system, resorted to handball which in many instances did not help their progress."

1915: The war in Europe was spreading its dark shadow across the Australian sporting scene as the clubs prepared for the 1915 season. Due to the wartime conditions the season was shortened, and provided for 13 rounds of home and away matches.

North Melbourne progressed through to the Grand Final undefeated, and proceeded to defeat Brunswick by 48 points to be hailed 'Champions'. They had gone through the season without sustaining one defeat, something that no other Association club had accomplished since 1893, and which no League club has yet achieved.

1916 & 1917: There was a break of two years due to World War 1.

1918: After the break of two years, the VFA competition was revived in 1918. Only six clubs were able to field sides: Brunswick, Footscray, Northcote, North Melbourne, Port Melbourne and Prahran.

North Melbourne progressed to another Grand Final, this time facing Prahran. They ran out comfortable winners by 93 points; victory in the final a fitting climax not only to a brilliant season but to a golden period in the club's history. North Melbourne had now won 31 matches in succession.

1919: By season 1919, hostilities in Europe had ceased and life had started to return to normal. North won all 18 of their home and away games before Brunswick stopped their 49 premiership game winning streak in the semi final, victorious by just nine points.

After a second successive loss in the Grand Final to Footscray by 22 points, the finals of the year not merely concluded the season, but brought to a close the club's greatest era in the VFA.