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Excerpts from The North Story, by Gerard Dowling

1920: Although the North Melbourne side was still comparable with the leading Association sides in 1920, it was only a shadow of its former self. There were players in the side whose ideas did not measure up to standard. They lacked the ability to sacrifice themselves in the interests of the team.

North Melbourne completed the 18 games of the 1920 season with 13 wins and went on to meet Footscray in the semi final. After the first contest was abandoned, the second was also close, before Footscray managed to hold on for a tight four point win.

1921: The North Melbourne players trained as usual in the last week of June, but after training on the 30th, the North Melbourne committee dropped a bombshell; informing the players that the North Melbourne Club had decided to disband. What was envisaged was a virtual amalgamation of North Melbourne (VFA) with Essendon (VFL).

During the week after the disbanding of the team, the future of the North Melbourne Recreation Reserve became a great talking point. It was ascertained that the North Melbourne Recreation Reserve was a Crown grant to the citizens of North Melbourne for their pleasure and recreation.

From this, it was quite evident that the Essendon club could have no right to use a ground which had been given to the citizens of North Melbourne. When the dust settled, the North Melbourne Football Club was still outside the League, and was, to all intents and purposes, a club without a team. Once more it re-formed, amalgamated not with Essendon (League) but Essendon (Association) and re-joined the Association.

1922: This was naturally a season of re-construction. Led by George E. Ravenhall as president, and retaining the services of Jack Heffernan as secretary, the committee set about rebuilding the club.

The success of the committee is amply demonstrated by the fact that with what was virtually a new team in the competition, the North Melbourne Football Club won 13 of 18 home and away games for the season, and capped this off by reaching the Grand Final before losing to Port Melbourne by 26 points.

1923: In this season, the VFA had a 18-match fixture, and North finished out of the finals, being fifth with nine wins and one draw. With the exception of 1921, when the team had been disbanded, this was the first time that the North Melbourne Football Club had not participated in the finals since they began their great run in 1910.

1924 - The Transition To The VFL: For a proper understanding of North's transition to the VFL from the VFA, one must recall some of the background in the formation of the League. In 1896, North Melbourne was excluded from the original eight clubs, and when the number grew to 10 in 1908, the new sides were Richmond and University, not North Melbourne.

University disbanded in 1915, and after nine years of an uneven nine teams, the VFL was ready to admit extra clubs. In late September delegates of the League voted for the formation of a sub-committee to examine the viability of the admission of club or clubs to the League.

On 9 January, 1925, the delegates of the nine VFL clubs met together to produce a final resolution of the problems with which it had been grappling for the previous six months. For the North Melbourne Football Club, it was to prove the most important meeting in the history of the VFL to that point.

A prolonged and involved discussion ensued, continuing for hours. The discussion went into the following morning, the fate of North Melbourne and a number of other clubs hanging in the balance. Eventually a decision was hammered out. It was agreed, by 14 votes to three, that the Footscray, Hawthorn and North Melbourne Clubs be admitted.

The year 1924 is often given as the year of elevation to League by these three clubs, whereas the authentic record of the minutes of the League meetings clearly records it as being 1925. Another often repeated error is that Hawthorn was the lucky club of the three inducted. In reality, North Melbourne was the lucky club, since the three clubs originally nominated were Footscray, Hawthorn and Prahran.

Record: 5-12, 75.2%
Ladder Position: 10th
Leading Goalkicker: Jack Woods (27)

The next three months after admission were exciting for the North club as they prepared for their first season of League football. It was important now for the team to acquit themselves well on the field; local interest in the club had never been so widespread, nor received so much support.

On the whole, the 1925 season was a fitting debut for the North club as a member of the League. They concluded the year with a total of five wins out of 17, finishing in 10th place above their two companions from Association ranks.

Record: 0-17-1, 73.7%
Ladder Position: 12th
Leading Goalkicker: Fred Metcalf (26)

North played 18 games for the 1926 season and could manage only one draw; at the conclusion of the year it occupied 12th place on the ladder. On the field G. Donnelly led and coached the side. It is interesting to note that North were known at this time as the Blue Birds.

Record: 3-15, 73.5%
Ladder Position: 11th
Leading Goalkicker: Charlie Tyson (23)

1927 was notable for the return to the club of one of its greatest players and probably its most capable leader, Syd Barker. He began the season as captain and coach but injuries later forced him to restrict himself to the latter.

The team opened the season by winning their first two matches before narrowly losing to Geelong. The following week, after kicking what was then the club's highest League score against Hawthorn, the North Melbourne Football Club rose to the top of the ladder.

Unfortunately that was the end of the club's success for the year; they failed to win any of their remaining 15 matches.

Record: 5-13, 62.7%
Ladder Position: 11th
Leading Goalkicker: John Dowling (28)

North Melbourne turned in their best season's performance since entering the League. Under the coaching of C. Tyson, they won five of their 18 games and concluded the year in 11th place.

Leo Dwyer, who won interstate selection during the season, was placed third in the Brownlow Medal. That was to stand for 32 years as the best performance by a North Melbourne player until the advent of his son Laurie who also notched up a third place in 1960.

Record: 1-17, 60.2%
Ladder Position: 12th
Syd Barker Medal: Charlie Cameron
Leading Goalkicker: John Dowling (28)

Despite the club's improved performance in the previous year, it had only one victory out of 18 in 1929. As a result it dropped to the bottom of the ladder.