Excerpts from The North Story, by Gerard Dowling

Record: 13-5, 123.4%
Ladder Position: 2nd
Finals: Defeated in the Grand Final
Syd Barker Medal: Les Foote
Leading Goalkicker: Jock Spencer (86)

The 1950 season is one that North Melbourne's supporters recall with great satisfaction. It was the first season North played as the 'Kangaroos'. In its 26th season in the VFL a North senior team contested a Grand Final for the first time, and that was certainly a source of much rejoicing by all North Melbourne supporters.

However, Essendon, ably captained by Dick Reynolds, proved too good for North Melbourne. North just could not recapture the brilliance of their resounding 17 point win over Geelong in the preliminary final the previous week. The Herald writer Alf Brown aptly summed it up:

"North go down after gallant battle before huge crowd"

Record: 7-11, 85.4%
Ladder Position: 9th
Syd Barker Medal: Jock Spencer
Leading Goalkicker: Jock Spencer (57)

From the outset of the 1951 season it appeared that the players had not recovered from the psychological let-down which defeat in the previous year's Grand Final had brought in its path. They had put everything into the attempt to win their first VFL pennant, and their failure to pull it off brought a deep and bitter disappointment.

They seemed unable to recapture that enthusiasm and fanaticism which had driven them to such great heights in 1950. The team could manage, in all, only seven wins and 11 losses. As a consequence, the club slid from second place to ninth.

Record: 9-10, 96.8%
Ladder Position: 7th
Syd Barker Medal: Jock McCorkell
Leading Goalkicker: Jock Spencer (51)

A factor that was to hasten the decline of the North Melbourne Football Club was the tragic loss of the club's superb president, Frank Trainor. His death in October had widespread repercussions on North's subsequent history, and though his indifferent health had given him a warning, the club was still unprepared for his death at 57.

For the committee he had headed for 15 years it was a bitter blow. A man of great judgment and leadership, he had planned and executed the rise of the North Melbourne Football Club from the lowliness to which they had fallen to a place of recognition among the 12 League clubs.

Sadly, Trainor died without a heir-apparent, and there was no-one who could assume undisputed leadership of the club at the time.

Record: 9-9, 107.8%
Ladder Position: 7th
Syd Barker Medal: Jack O'Halloran
Leading Goalkicker: Gerald Marchesi (49)

By the close of the home and away matches for 1953, North Melbourne had failed to make the finals. They had nine defeats and nine victories for the season, and had retained seventh position on the ladder.

Fifty years earlier, the North Melbourne Football Club had won their first VFA pennant. So the Past Players Association held a reunion to celebrate the anniversary. The special guests on that occasion were the surviving members of the historic team which in 1903 had defeated Richmond on the East Melbourne ground.

Record: 11-6-1, 99.6%
Ladder Position: 3rd
Finals: Defeated in the Semi Final
Syd Barker Medal: John Brady
Leading Goalkicker: Jock Spencer (38)

At the end of the first season under Phonse Tobin's presidency, the Kangaroos concluded the home and away matches in third place. Of the 18 matches that they had played, they had won 11 and drawn one. This tally included two winning sequences, the first four games of the season being won and four out of the last five as well.

Having waited four years to recontest a final series, North Melbourne faced Melbourne in the first semi final of 1954. The outcome of this match was a disappointment for North. The team did not play up to expectations, and it was a game marred by rough incidents. Melbourne ran out 30 point winners.

Record: 3-15, 76.3%
Ladder Position: 11th
Syd Barker Medal: Bob Brooker
Leading Goalkicker: Jock Spencer (68)

From fourth place with 11 wins and a draw in 1954, North was a dismal 11th the next year with only three victories out of 18 to its credit. Best performances for the year had come from Bob Brooker, Jack O'Halloran and Kevin McMahon, who filled first, second and third places respectively in the Syd Barker Medal.

Record: 3-15, 69.6%
Ladder Position: 12th
Syd Barker Medal: Jack Edwards
Leading Goalkicker: Jock Spencer (40)

Charlie Gaudion saw the club hit rock bottom in his first year as coach, when his team could only manage 15 defeats and three wins. Being last was a distinction the club had managed to avoid since the days of the war in 1940.

Record: 8-10, 95.1%
Ladder Position: 8th
Syd Barker Medal: Brian Martyn
Leading Goalkicker: John Dugdale (37)

The team showed a noticeable improvement in 1957, rising to eighth by winning eight of its 18 engagements. Good performances from men like Martyn, Brady, Doolan, Dwyer and Aylett, as well as the first appearances of Keith Robertson, Mick Gaudion and Brian Cahill, and the acquisition of Peter Schofield and Bob Wiltshire from Moorabbin, augured well for the future.

Record: 11-7, 92.7%
Ladder Position: 4th
Syd Barker Medal: Allen Aylett
Leading Goalkicker: John Dugdale (57)

With 1958 the North Melbourne Football Club experienced a brief return to the status it had enjoyed some years earlier. After winning just one of their first five encounters, they contradicted this form by unwinding a winning streak of six successive victories. With a total of 11 victories from 18 contests to give them fourth place, North met and defeated Fitzroy in the first semi-final.

Unfortunately, in the preliminary final against Collingwood, a six goal last quarter was in vain as North Melbourne were defeated by 20 points.

Record: 10-8, 89.3%
Ladder Position: 6th
Syd Barker Medal: Allen Aylett
Leading Goalkicker: Peter Schofield (47)

After 10 games had been played, North had eight wins to their credit and looked to be set for another appearance in the finals. Then disaster struck the side and they only won two of their remaining eight engagements, to finish in ninth place. A severe penalty from the Tribunal to Noel Teasdale and critical injuries to several players crippled the side.


Record: 5-13, 80.3%
Ladder Position: 11th
Syd Barker Medal: Allen Aylett
Leading Goalkicker: John Dugdale (38)

For North, 1960 was to be the first of three very poor years. The only break in the clouds that year was a brilliant victory over Collingwood at Victoria Park, which had never been North's happiest hunting ground. Eventually the club finished 11th, after winning five and losing 13 games.

Record: 4-13-1, 79.1%
Ladder Position: 12th
Syd Barker Medal: Laurie Dwyer
Leading Goalkicker: John Dugdale (47)

This was a troubled year at Arden Street, as was evident from the fact that the team finished in 12th position, having been able to win only four and draw one of their 18 encounters. None of their recruits really succeeded, and the side had to be carried by their new captain, Allen Aylett.

North Melbourne's struggle to find a new identity was proving a painful experience, but those who were responsible for the club's destiny pressed inexorably on, determined to build a club and a team capable of standing in the forefront of League ranks. They were helped in their objective by receiving that year from the VFL a further extension of the club's district.

Record: 4-14, 73.1%
Ladder Position: 11th
Syd Barker Medal: Bill Serong
Leading Goalkicker: John Dugdale (44)

The year 1962 was only 16 days old when the North Melbourne Football Club's president, Alex Marr, resigned from office. His five years in the position had been the longest since Trainor's demise, and his going was yet another disruption to the administration.

Fortunately for the club, Jack Adams, its experienced and valued former secretary, was prepared to assume the burden. His presidency was short and effective - four years, which saw North Melbourne through the last troubled phase of its transition from a local to semi-professional body.

Record: 8-10, 85.1%
Ladder Position: 7th
Syd Barker Medal: Noel Teasdale
Leading Goalkicker: John Dugdale (30)

Under Alan Killigrew's tutoring, North Melbourne had their best year since 1959. They rose to seventh after notching eight wins out of the 18 games played.

Record: 8-10, 87.2%
Ladder Position: 8th
Syd Barker Medal: Noel Teasdale
Leading Goalkicker: John Dugdale (46)

In 1964, Ron Joseph, a man who would play an extraordinary part in the success of North's struggle to win a League pennant, was appointed full-time assistant secretary. He was yet another 'outsider', who would blend with the 'home grown' personnel to create the North Melbourne Football Club's ultimate winning formula in the seventies.

As the season wore on, a move to have the home ground changed was initiated. It culminated in a decision to switch headquarters from Arden Street to the Coburg City Oval for the 1965 season. While the move in itself proved unsuccessful, its aftermath was to set the scene for the club's ultimate triumph, with AFL premierships in 1975 and 1977.

Record: 5-13, 80.8%
Ladder Position: 9th
Syd Barker Medal: Noel Teasdale
Leading Goalkicker: Frank Goode (38)

In almost every department 1965 was a trying year; there had been difficulties in effecting the move from Arden Street, upset in the administration and poor performances on the field. The team had to cope with the retirement of Allen Aylett. Laurie Dwyer too had suffered persistent injury.

Record: 7-10-1, 93.7%
Ladder Position: 7th
Syd Barker Medal: Noel Teasdale
Leading Goalkicker: Frank Goode (49)

During its first season back at North Melbourne, under the coaching of Alan Killigrew and with Noel Teasdale again holding the captaincy, North had seven wins and one draw from a fixture of 18. The drawn game was a thriller played at the MCG against Richmond on 13 June, the Queen's Birthday holiday.

It was a much happier year for North than the distressing one that had preceded it. The effects of the new accord between the club and Melbourne City Council were evident even before the season started. The council had spent about $4,000 before the first game to provide a completely new change-room for visiting First Eighteen teams, equal to, if not better than, any in the League.

Record: 7-10-1, 94.2%
Ladder Position: 8th
Syd Barker Medal: Laurie Dwyer
Leading Goalkicker: Gary Farrant (26)

The coaching position for 1967 had been awarded by the committee to Keith McKenzie, a talented and popular player of the forties, who had recently occupied the post of North's reserve grade coach in the 1965 and 1966 seasons. Under his direction, North managed seven wins and one drawn game out of 18.

The 1967 season reached its traditional climax on Grand Final day. But that year there was an innovation which became a regular feature of this great day: North's Grand Final Breakfast in the Southern Cross Ballroom, which, due to that hotel's reconstruction work, transferred to the Exhibition Building in 1995.

Record: 3-17, 74.3%
Ladder Position: 12th
Syd Barker Medal: John Dugdale
Leading Goalkicker: Doug Farrant (35)

North Melbourne suffered a decline in its fortunes during 1968. Though the club continued to gather some excellent material, most of the young players needed time to develop. Therefore by the end of the season, which had been extended to 20 matches, North was occupying 12th place.

Three years had elapsed since North's 'going home', years of planning and hard work characterised by a businesslike approach to the main undertaking, the winning of its VFL pennant. Some severe checks had been experienced but rather than weaken resolve they served to deepen commitment to that central ambition.

Record: 8-12, 87.5%
Ladder Position: 8th
Syd Barker Medal: Sam Kekovich
Leading Goalkicker: Sam Kekovich (56)

In 1969 the North Melbourne Football Club celebrated the centenary of its foundation. After six wins out of their first eight games, they failed to go on with things. Out of the remaining 12 matches they won only two more, to put them in eighth position at the end of the first round of matches.

Towards the end of the season, the North Melbourne Football Club enjoyed a crowning achievement of its centennial, the official opening of the new social club's Harold R. Hendeson Pavillion. After three years' hard work by the social club committee, it was opened by the Lord Mayor of Melbourne on 5 August in the presence of a distinguished gathering.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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!"

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

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.

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.

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.

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.