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In The Mix: Round 10

With North coming off a disappointing loss to Sydney, changes might be in store ahead of Saturday’s match.

10:00am May 21, 2019

Round 10 replacement game

This week's game with the Western Bulldogs is a designated replacement home match.

9:30am May 21, 2019

1970's

Excerpts from The North Story, by Gerard Dowling

1970
Record: 4-18, 79.1%
Ladder Position: 12th
Syd Barker Medal: Barry Cable
Leading Goalkicker: Gary Farrant (32)

Few seasons have dawned with such glow of anticipation as that of 1970. Many people considered that North was set for a great year, and visualised a place in the finals for the first time since 1958.

However, a multitude of injuries and early matches being lost by narrow margins led to a decline of team confidence. The net result of these misfortunes was a rout, as the 1970 season moved to its close. Therefore, instead of an advance to the front rank, the club itself retreated to last place.

1971
Record: 5-16-1, 66.8%
Ladder Position: 9th
Syd Barker Medal: David Dench
Leading Goalkicker: Sam Kekovich (35)

The new Allen Aylett-led administration took the club into the initial season of a five-year plan, strategically directed towards bringing that long awaited, first League flag to Arden Street, and thereby fulfilling the dreams of North's small, but dedicated band of long-suffering supporters.

At the end of the season, the club occupied ninth position on the ladder, an improvement by three rungs on the previous year. This entitled North Melbourne to be adjudged, along with Melbourne and Fitzroy, the best improvers outside the final four.

1972
Record: 1-21, 62.9%
Ladder Position: 12th
Syd Barker Medal: Ken Montgomery
Leading Goalkicker: Sam Kekovich (19)

Out of 22 engagements, the North side achieved only one victory. However the introduction of 'The Ten Year Rule' - which allowed a player who had completed 10 years with a club to transfer to another without any restraint - led to some sensational developments.

North Melbourne signed Barry Davis of Essendon, Doug Wade of Geelong and John Rantall of South Melbourne under the rule, and then managed to sign their dream coach - Ron Barassi.
 


1973
Record: 11-10-1, 97.6%
Ladder Position: 6th
Syd Barker Medal: Barry Davis
Leading Goalkicker: Doug Wade (73)

During pre-season, there was a new attitude towards success evident around Arden Street, but that was nothing compared with the win/loss ratio that was chalked up as the season unfolded.

Where the North side had won only one in 1972, this year saw that figure swell to 11 wins and one drawn match, to leave the club in sixth position, two points and some percentage out of a berth in the final five.

 


1974
Record: 16-6, 138.8%
Ladder Position: 2nd
Finals: Defeated in the Grand Final
Syd Barker Medal: John Rantall
Leading Goalkicker: Doug Wade (104)

Of the 22 matches contested in the home and away series, the North players, led by Barry Davis and coached by Ron Barassi, lifted the club into the finals since 1958, after they had won 16 games out of 22 contested. On the eve of the finals they stood in second place behind Richmond, the reigning premiers. North Melbourne would then play Richmond in the Grand Final.

However, Richmond were too strong, winning by 41 points. An irate Barassi had his players locked away in the changing rooms for a considerable time afterwards. He was determined that they learn an effective lesson from their capitulation, and the same spirit prevailed at the function arranged after the match at the Southern Cross Ballroom.

His central message to the players, which he declared in front of the players and all their supporters, and which left its sting in them for the following year was, "You have suffered ultimate defeat in the ultimate match!"
 


1975
Record: 14-8, 115.1%
Ladder Position: 3rd
Finals: Premiers
Syd Barker Medal: Barry Davis
Leading Goalkicker: Doug Wade (47)

Back in 1971 when the five year plan was first formulated, it was relatively easy to come up with a theory - put in place a sound administration, establish and develop an effective fund raising facility, acquire a top line coach and recruit a team of players capable of winning a grand final. All this had been put in place over four seasons; the fifth had to be vintage time.

After a slow start - not winning any of their first four games - the Kangaroos only dropped four of their remaining 16 rounds to finish in third place at the end of the home and away matches. They progressed to their second successive Grand Final to play Hawthorn, and ran out victors by 55 points.

The presentation of the Premiership Cup by Sir Henry Winneke, the popular Governor of Victoria, was the fulfillment of a dream for every North Melbourne person through the MCG, and for those who would watch it in full colour on the television replay.

Barry Davis stepped onto the dais for that ecstatic moment, to be joined by Ron Barassi, and when he was handed that huge silver trophy, he instinctively kissed it, and then held it high to the delight of his team-mates, the delirious joy of the North Melbourne faithful, and the persistent flashes of a crush of eager photographers.

In the major trophy cabinet there is a silver cup of unique significance. It was won by North’s first VFL premiership team in Adelaide just two weeks after their great triumph at the MCG, but its uniqueness arises from the fact that even though it is a perpetual trophy, it is likely to remain in North’s possession.

After North Melbourne triumphantly took it off in the City of Churches in 1975, the annual contest between the premier teams from Adelaide, Hobart, Melbourne and Perth has no longer been conducted, and so it might well never have to be handed back to be competed for once again.

Game 1: North Melbourne 12.18.90 defeated West Perth 7.9.51
Game 2: Norwood 12.20.82 defeated Glenorchy 8.11.59

Final: North Melbourne 17.15.117 defeated Norwood 5.11.41

1976
Record: 15-7, 116.8%
Ladder Position: 3rd
Finals: Defeated in the Grand Final
Syd Barker Medal: David Dench
Leading Goalkicker: Wayne Schimmelbusch (43)

After another slow start, North Melbourne turned things around, only losing two of their last 15 games; the net result of this meaning they were again a finals contender when September came around. At the conclusion of the home and away matches, North Melbourne were third.

With victories in the semi final (Geelong) and preliminary final (Carlton), North Melbourne progressed to another Grand Final, to again play Hawthorn. However, the men from Glenferrie had their hearts set on winning it for Peter Crimmins who was only days away from his death, as he lay home in Melbourne's eastern suburbs listening to the broadcast. Hawthorn were victors by 30 points.

1977
Record: 15-7, 117.8%
Ladder Position: 3rd
Finals: Premiers
Syd Barker Medal: David Dench
Leading Goalkicker: Brent Crosswell (42)

The club received a tremendous fillip through the return of Ron Joseph to the administration, this time as general manager. As the season unfolded it became abundantly clear that everything possible was being put into place to facilitate the unfurling of another pennant at Arden Street.

With the completion of Round 22 on 27 August, North Melbourne were finalists again, occupying third place on the ladder after 15 victories and seven defeats. They progressed through to the Grand Final to play Collingwood, where a draw meant the match would have to be replayed a week later.

North Melbourne were victors in the replay by 27 points, and for a club that had for so long watched players from other clubs receive the Premiership Cup in the victory ceremony, it was unbelievable that here were their players going through that ceremony for the second occasion in three seasons. The host of the ceremony this time round was the new VFL president, Allen Aylett.

1978
Record: 16-6, 120.9%
Ladder Position: 1st
Finals: Defeated in the Grand Final
Syd Barker Medal: Malcolm Blight
Leading Goalkicker: Malcolm Blight (77)

For the first time since 1949, and only the second time in the club's League history, North Melbourne were minor premiers. In addition, for the second time in two years the Dr McClelland Trophy came to Arden Street, A reserve grade premiership year and a good season by the under-19's greatly helped with this result.

North Melbourne again progressed to the Grand Final, but with their depleted ranks, they did not have the energy or the manpower to get them across the line against Hawthorn. After a whole season of incredible effort, they fell short of the ultimate prize by a mere 19 points.
 


1979
Record: 17-5, 123.6%
Ladder Position: 2nd
Finals: Defeated in the Preliminary Final
Syd Barker Medal: Gary Dempsey
Leading Goalkicker: Malcolm Blight (60)

Given the club's meteoric rise throughout the major part of the seventies, 1979 was somewhat of an anti-climax. While the senior side ended the home and away series in second place, with 17 wins as opposed to five losses, they clearly failed to reach the dizzy heights attained in 1975 and 1977.

In the preliminary final, Collingwood defeated North Melbourne by 27 points. It meant that North Melbourne would miss the Grand Final after contesting it on the previous six occasions.