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1940's

Excerpts from The North Story, by Gerard Dowling

1940
Record: 4-14, 75.1%
Ladder Position: 12th
Syd Barker Medal: Jim Adamson
Leading Goalkicker: Sel Murray (58)

By the time football resumed the following year, North Melbourne was starting to feel the effects of Australia's declaration of war on Germany the previous September. While the club accepted it in a patriotic way, there was still a great deal of disappointment due to the view that at no time since North entered the League had their prospects appeared so bright.

In view of this, it was not surprising that the club's successes only totaled four out of 18 by the year's end, and that they had dropped to last place on the ladder. When captain and coach for 1940, Len Thomas, had to resign, Wally Carter stepped into the breach, giving Carter his first taste of League coaching.

1941
Record: 6-12, 92.9%
Ladder Position: 9th
Syd Barker Medal: George Kennedy & Bill Findlay
Leading Goalkicker: Sel Murray (88)

Circumstances in 1941 gave Bob McCaskell the coaching mantle, and under his tutelage the side regained much of their poise. They increased their wins to six out of the 17 games rostered and rose three rungs on the ladder.

The club ran up their then record League score of 15.14. (104) against Footscray. Sel Murray with 88 goals created the club's record, and missed the honour of being leading VFL goalkicker by one goal.

1942
Record: 4-10, 78.2%
Ladder Position: 9th
Syd Barker Medal: Jack Allister
Leading Goalkicker: Sel Murray (42)

North Melbourne's most notable achievement in this wartime year was an administrative coup, which gave the club a lease of the Reserve. The basic agreement hammered out in 1922 had remained in existence ever since. After 20 years, this ground management committee handed back to the Melbourne City Council the management of the Reserve in 1942.

The president and treasurer, Messrs Trainor and Meere, acted promptly following the termination of the agreement. They applied for and were given by the Melbourne City Council a lease of the ground for the current football season. By that act the club became its own ground manager.

1943
Record: 5-9-1, 77%
Ladder Position: 9th
Syd Barker Medal: Don Kemp
Leading Goalkicker: Bill Findlay (43)

The wartime conditions of 1942 still prevailed in 1943. Because of this, the committee adopted an overall policy aimed at avoiding the uncertainties involved in relying on members of the armed forces; this involved relying on the products of junior teams.

The club's financial statement for 1943 showed that the committee had been able not only to lift the bank overdraft, but also complete repayments of the loan made available so generously to the club by the VFL in the darkest days of 1935.

1944
Record: 10-8, 100.3%
Ladder Position: 6th
Syd Barker Medal: Alan Crawford
Leading Goalkicker: Bill Findlay (55)

Though the war was still being waged, there was some alleviation at North from the difficulties which had hampered the club during the past three seasons. Bob McCaskell, who had begun so successfully as coach back in 1941, was able to resume his duties.

Up to this point, the 1944 season was North's record League performance. It had been a long and difficult 20 seasons, but at last opponents were being forced to drop their patronising cry of 'Poor Old North!' and had to sit up and take notice. Two of those who would not be quick to forget the 'New North' were Geelong and Hawthorn.

1945
Record: 13-7, 111.1%
Ladder Position: 3rd
Finals: Defeated in the Semi Final
Syd Barker Medal: Les Foote
Leading Goalkicker: Bill Findlay (49)

This year, for the first time, the North Melbourne Football Club attained a much coveted place in the final four. At the conclusion of the 21st round of home and away games drawn up for that season, North occupied third position behind South Melbourne and Collingwood, and just above Carlton which scraped into fourth place.

However, in North Melbourne's first semi final, the result was a clear-cut and convincing win to Carlton, which, with six successive wins behind them, had hit the form that took them on to the 1945 flag. Among North's best were Crane, Findlay, Quinn, Condon, Fairweather, and Malone.

1946
Record: 8-11, 91.2%
Ladder Position: 9th
Syd Barker Medal: Don Condon
Leading Goalkicker: Sid Dyer (55)

Following their better seasons of 1944 and 1945, North turned in a poor year in the first since the cessation of hostilities. After eight wins and 11 losses, they held ninth place. Some years previously this might have been regarded as a reasonably successful season, but now that the four had finally been attained, anything short of that was just not good enough.

1947
Record: 4-15, 77.7%
Ladder Position: 10th
Syd Barker Medal: Keith McKenzie
Leading Goalkicker: Sid Dyer (47)

At the season's end, the club found themselves down one rung from 1946 to 10th after winning four out of the 19 matches presented. The 1947 season also brought to an end Bob McCaskell's term as coach. At his retirement, he had become unquestionably the most successful man to have coached North Melbourne since they entered the VFL in 1925.
 


1948
Record: 8-11, 83.8%
Ladder Position: 8th
Syd Barker Medal: Dally O'Brien
Leading Goalkicker: Don Condon (38)

In 1948, though the North side only bettered their place of the previous year by two rungs on the League ladder with only eight out of 19 games won, important currents were discernible which would grow into a giant swell in the two years that followed.

One of these was an improvement in the club's financial position. Another was the advancement in junior football right through North's district, which now stretched as far as Bell Street in West Coburg.

1949
Record: 14-5, 119.1%
Ladder Position: 1st
Finals: Defeated in the Preliminary Final
Syd Barker Medal: Les Foote
Leading Goalkicker: Jock Spencer (65)

North Melbourne clinched their place at the top of the League ladder at the close of the first round matches for 1949. This gave the club the VFL minor premiership for the season, the first time that North Melbourne had attained such an honour. It was a well-earned triumph. Never before had North won so many of their home and away matches.

And despite two defeats in their finals matches - eliminated by Essendon in the preliminary final - North Melbourne was established as a League power and a force to be reckoned with. From the depths into which they had slid in the thirties, they had reversed the trend and had scaled the heights in the forties.