Excerpts from The North Story, by Gerard Dowling

Record: 14-7-1, 123.8%
Ladder Position: 4th
Finals: Defeated in the Elimination Final
Syd Barker Medal: Keith Greig
Leading Goalkicker: Arnold Briedis (53)

1980 brought to a close the marvellous eight-year, 200-game partnership between the North Melbourne Football Club and Ronald Dale Barassi. It had begun with a signature on a serviette, it had been studded with tremendous success - and now, sadly, the time had come for him to move on.

Barassi's farewell remarks to the press following his departure captured in a superb manner the special spirit that had pervaded Arden Street in the Sensational Seventies:

"The coach always feels lonely after a loss, but yes, there is a special sadness. When you understand it is your last game after eight years - a long time. People don't realise coaches love their players a lot more than it appears. North has been wonderful to me. I am a better person, a better coach."

Record: 10-12, 104.1%
Ladder Position: 8th
Syd Barker Medal: David Dench
Leading Goalkicker: Malcolm Blight (70)

Season 1981 ushered in many changes to North's public face. First there was the experiment of promoting Malcolm Blight to the position of senior coach while still playing, and allowing Wayne Schimmelbusch to continue as captain. There were also a crop of new players; among them Peter Spencer, Andrew Demetriou and Dean & Glen Dugdale; the sons of John Dugdale.

Barry Cable took over as coach halfway through the season, and at the end of the season North Melbourne occupied eighth place on the table.

Record: 14-8, 109.6%
Ladder Position: 5th
Finals: Defeated in the Semi Final
Syd Barker Medal: Ross Glendinning
Leading Goalkicker: Malcolm Blight (103)

1982 was North Melbourne's first sightings of the Krakouer brothers; Phil and Jim were destined to leave their mark on the football club over the coming years. At the conclusion of the home and away matches, North Melbourne had bounced back into the final five, with 14 wins and eight losses.

Despite elimination in the semi final, one special source of rejoicing for the season was that Malcolm Blight joined Doug Wade as a League's leading goalkicker by booting 94 goals during the home and away matches. That earned him the club's first Coleman Medal, and he then went on to lift his tally to 103 in the finals series.

Record: 16-6, 127.8%
Ladder Position: 1st
Finals: Defeated in the Preliminary Final
Syd Barker Medal: Ross Glendinning
Leading Goalkicker: Jim & Phil Krakouer (44)

North Melbourne took out the minor premiership, heading the League ladder at the end of the home and away fixture for only the third time in their history. This success was not confined to the seniors; North Melbourne were also winners of the Dr McClelland Trophy as Club Champions for the first time since 1978.

However, North Melbourne were eliminated in straight sets in the finals series by the eventual Grand Finalists; Hawthorn and then Essendon.

1984 - The Move to the MCG
Record: 5-17, 81.7%
Ladder Position: 11th
Syd Barker Medal: Kym Hodgeman
Leading Goalkicker: Donald McDonald (38)

A major development during this season was the decision to seek approval from the VFL and the MCC to switch some home games to the MCG. The aim was to extend this to a co-tenancy of that great stadium while retaining Arden Street as administrative and training headquarters.

Needless to say the decision to move was made only after an exhaustive exploration of the possible redevelopment of the North Melbourne Recreation Reserve.

Approvals for the move were forthcoming, and the North Melbourne Football Club played their historic first home game at their new venue on Saturday 28 April. Their opponents were Melbourne, the original users of that ground, and the Kangaroos triumphed over the Demons. They went on to play a further three home games there during the season.

Record: 13-8-1, 97.9%
Ladder Position: 5th
Finals: Defeated in the Semi Final
Syd Barker Medal: Matthew Larkin
Leading Goalkicker: Phil Krakouer (35)

An innovative feature of 1985 was the club's pioneering of Friday night football, utilising to the full effect the newly created floodlights at the MCG. Before 65,628 people, they played their opening encounter under those conditions against Collingwood.

After 13 wins for the season, North Melbourne finished in fifth place and earning another finals berth. In the elimination final against Carlton, North rallied from a 31 point half time deficit to win by 19 - a 14 goal second half the catalyst. Unfortunately Footscray would defeat North Melbourne the following week in the semi final.

Record: 12-10, 98.6%
Ladder Position: 7th
Syd Barker Medal: Jim Krakouer
Leading Goalkicker: Jim Krakouer (32)

It is not often that the activity over the fence actually outshines that on the field, but in 1986 that is precisely what happened in the annals of the North Melbourne Football Club. North Melbourne had to resolve some of the most basic questions that any organisation can face: Was it to survive in its own right? Was it to stay in Melbourne? How was it to survive financially?

Decisions were arrived at: North Melbourne would continue to be based in the city of its origin, it would survive in its own right, and it would provide itself with a sound financial base by launching itself on the stock market with a public share issue of three million shares. These were to be packaged in such a way that no one person could obtain outright control of the company.

Record: 13-8-1, 99.4%
Ladder Position: 4th
Finals: Defeated in the Elimination Final
Syd Barker Medal: Matthew Larkin
Leading Goalkicker: Phil Krakouer (43)

North Melbourne listed themselves to fourth place with 13 wins, eight losses and one draw when the home and away matches had ended. During that fixture, they had played the two new teams in the League, West Coast and Brisbane; the national competition had truly arrived.

Wayne Schimmelbusch broke Keith Greig's game record and stretched it to 306. That landmark was achieved on the SCG in Round 10, when he was so seriously injured that his courageous career had been brought to an unexpected end. Earlier that year he had captained Victoria

Record: 7-14-1, 89.5%
Ladder Position: 11th
Syd Barker Medal: Matthew Larkin
Leading Goalkicker: Jim Krakouer (35)

It was an extremely difficult time for North, but Bob Ansett and his fellow board members were resolute in their efforts to survive and eventually to prosper despite the atmosphere of gloom hanging over not just North but all the Melbourne-based clubs.

The policy was to bring fresh aspirants through the under-19's, and that was one of the brighter aspects for Kangaroo supporters. New life had been breathed into the players' ranks with the emergence of John Longmire, Michael Martyn, Anthony Rock and Wayne Schwass, who would all make their mark in future seasons.

Record: 9-13, 89.6%
Ladder Position: 9th
Syd Barker Medal: Michael Martyn
Leading Goalkicker: Ian Fairley (28)

One historic highlight during 1989 was the retrospective Brownlow Medal conferred on Noel Teasdale, who had drawn with Ian Stewart back in 1965 but had lost on a countback. It was an important moment for the club as well as for Noel and his wife, Dawn.

This season proved to be the last that Ron Joseph would serve with the North Melbourne Football Club, which had virtually become his whole life since he joined it back in 1964 when he was 18 years of age. He had become completely identified with the fortunes of the club, in the process becoming the confidant of countless players and of many others around the club.


Excerpts of 1990-1996 from The North Story, by Gerard Dowling

Record: 12-10, 114%
Ladder Position: 6th
Syd Barker Medal: John Longmire
Leading Goalkicker: John Longmire (98)

In many ways, 1990 was John Longmire's year. He won the Coleman Medal as the leading goalkicker for the season with 98 goals. Nerves got the better of him during the last game of the year, and while he had ample opportunities to make it a century he just couldn't put through those last two necessary to bring up the ton.

Moreover, he became an All-Australian player, kicked North's record for one match - 14 goals equalling thereby the record for the MCG, and then went on to win the club championship as well. However, North Melbourne just missed the finals, finishing in 6th position.

Record: 12-10, 91.2%
Ladder Position: 8th
Syd Barker Medal: Craig Sholl
Leading Goalkicker: John Longmire (91)

Carlton Football Club representatives made a daring and desperate bid to buy a controlling interest in the shares of the North Melbourne Football Club by purchasing a large parcel of shares formally owned by Bob Ansett. Their strategy was to take over North and to acquire their quality players.

However they hadn't realised that North's float had been so structured that no one person could ever gain full control of a majority of the shares. When the cloak-and-dagger melodrama was over, and the dust had settled, North had survived in their own right, and had avoided a take over bid or a merger with another club.

Record: 7-15, 89.5%
Ladder Position: 12th
Syd Barker Medal: Wayne Carey
Leading Goalkicker: John Longmire (64)

At the administrative level, Bob Ansett decided that the time had come to step down, after his long and truly committed service as chairman/president during which he orchestrated tremendous changes within the club that saved it from extinction and ensured its stability.

Before the year closed, the board made the decision to appoint coach Wayne Schimmelbusch for a further two years. Obviously, they believed that he was the man for the job; sadly, developments early the following year placed a large question mark over that decision.

13-7, 120.8%
Ladder Position: 3rd
Finals: Defeated in the Elimination Final
Syd Barker Medal: Wayne Carey
Leading Goalkicker: John Longmire (75)

Due to a 147 point loss to Adelaide in the first game of the night series on 24 February, Wayne Schimmelbusch resigned as coach of the North Melbourne Football Club on 3 March. The board chose Denis Pagan, whose success with North's under-19's had been unprecedented, and who had just coached Essendon's reserve side to a premiership the previous year.

After a third place finish and an elimination final loss to West Coast, Wayne Carey became only the seventh player in the history of the club to win successive Club Champion awards. There was also a campaign started to increase the club's membership, with special emphasis placed on it.

13-9, 129%
Ladder Position: 3rd
Finals: Defeated in the Preliminary Final
Syd Barker Medal: Wayne Schwass
Leading Goalkicker: John Longmire (78)

In 1994, North Melbourne celebrated the 125th anniversary foundation of its foundation; it really needed a top season performance to commemorate the occasion fittingly and it certainly was not disappointed.

After celebrating its 125th anniversary with a victory against Collingwood, North Melbourne finished in third position with a record of 13 wins and nine losses. They entered a qualifying final against Hawthorn as favourites, yet needed extra time to get past them. The preliminary final resulted in a heartbreaking six point loss to Geelong.

For the 1994 Syd Barker Medal, the board decided to strike up a medal for each player that had won the club champion award before 1970 due to no medal being produced before then.

14-8, 114.8%
Ladder Position: 6th
Finals: Defeated in the Preliminary Final
Syd Barker Medal: Wayne Schwass
Leading Goalkicker: Wayne Carey (65)

Once again North Melbourne progressed deep into the finals series, backing up their night series win in the pre-season. Wins in the qualifying final against Richmond and semi final against West Coast led to a showdown against Carlton in the preliminary final, where the result was a 62 point win to Carlton.

At the Syd Barker Medal presentation evening on 27 October, at the Carlton Radisson Ballroom, there was a special commemoration of the 20th anniversary of North Melbourne's first League pennant won in 1975. It was a happy and nostalgic evening addressed by Ron Barassi, the coach, Barry Davis, the captain, and Allen Aylett, the president.

16-6, 127.4%
Ladder Position: 2nd
Finals: Premiers
Syd Barker Medal: Wayne Carey
Leading Goalkicker: Wayne Carey (82)

The North players had set themselves two principal objectives for the season. The first was to make the top two, and the second was not to lose back to back matches. By the conclusion of round 22, they had attained both of these objectives.

After finishing second at the conclusion of the home and away season, North Melbourne progressed to the grand final against Sydney by virtue of wins against Geelong (qualifying final) and Brisbane (preliminary final).

An 11 goal second half was the catalyst for a 43 point win, earning North Melbourne their third premiership after successes in 1975 and 1977. For everyone associated with the club it had truly been a golden year. The Kangaroos had triumphed in the Centenary Season of the AFL, proving beyond question that they were the best in the land.

12-10, 111.8%
Ladder Position: 7th
Finals: Defeated in the Preliminary Final
Syd Barker Medal: Anthony Stevens
Leading Goalkicker: Brett Allison (43)

The premiership defence commenced in the worst possible way, as Wayne Carey suffered a shoulder injury in the season opener against Melbourne that sidelined him until Round 13. With his absence throwing the team into chaos, North Melbourne stuttered through the regular season to finish 7th with a record of 12 wins and 10 losses.

September brought out the best in North Melbourne, as they disposed of second placed Geelong in a cut throat qualifying final thanks to seven goals from Carey. They then defeated West Coast in the semi final, before another serious shoulder injury - this time to Corey McKernan - halted their unlikely push for a premiership to eventual runners up, St Kilda.

Record: 16-6, 117.4%
Ladder Position: 1st
Finals: Defeated in the Grand Final
Syd Barker Medal: Wayne Carey
Leading Goalkicker: Wayne Carey (80)

Coming off an ultimately disappointing 1997, 1998 brought renewed focus to the North Melbourne Football Club. Wayne Carey, fit once more, wreaked havoc on the competition; his 80 goals good enough to earn yet another Syd Barker Medal.

An 11 game winning streak rode North Melbourne into Grand Final day against Adelaide as warm favourites, yet their domination of the second quarter resulting in only two goals and 11 behinds proved fatal for their chances. Adelaide stormed home with 11 goals to two in the second half to leave North Melbourne heartbroken on the MCG to conclude the 1998 season.

Record: 17-5, 115.7%
Ladder Position: 2nd
Finals: Premiers
Syd Barker Medal: Anthony Stevens
Leading Goalkicker: Wayne Carey (76)

After only one win in their first four matches to start the 1999 season, it seemed that North Melbourne were unable to shake off their shattering loss in the 1998 Grand Final. However, from that point on their fortunes drastically changed.

North Melbourne only lost two more games for the rest of the season, and similar to 1998, they carried a seven game winning streak into the last Saturday of September. Thankfully, history did not repeat itself and North Melbourne comfortably defeated Carlton to the tune of 35 points - Shannon Grant winning the Norm Smith Medal.