Almanac Footy: The calm before the storm – Fitzroy’s break even 1993

The calm before the storm: Fitzroy’s break even 1993 season by Philip Mendes[i]


High lights from Fitzroy’s 1993 season can be viewed Here.


 At the end of 1992, Fitzroy experienced some losses and some gains in playing personnel. Classy veterans Richard Osborne and John Blakey departed for other clubs as did young midfielder Brendan McCormack. But on the plus side, they acquired talented John McCarthy from North Melbourne, journeyman Mark Zanotti from Brisbane, and quirky James Manson from Collingwood. All three made solid contributions.


Fitzroy’s 1993 trajectory was quite similar to 1992. They were highly competitive in the pre-season competition, and just missed out on making the Foster’s Cup Grand Final for the second successive year. They won five out of their first eight home and away games to sit 4th on the ladder, lost nine out of 10 to drop to 12th, before finishing on a high note with four wins in a row to end the season 11th with 10 wins and 10 losses, and only two wins behind the 5th side. Four of their victories were over finals sides: Carlton, West Coast, North Melbourne and Adelaide. Conversely, losses to three of the bottom four sides proved costly.


Alastair Lynch had a fantastic season, transitioning from an occasional match winner to an elite A-grader. He won the Fitzroy Best and Fairest, made the all-Australian team, and finished 8th in the AFL goalkicking table. Matthew Armstrong, fully recovered from his 1991 knee injury, also returned to his very best form. Youngsters Jamie Elliott and Michael Dunstan had impressive seasons, whilst rookie defender Simon Hawking shone late in the season. But lack of depth remained a problem, particularly given injuries to key players including captain Paul Roos (who broke his jaw in an early June State of Origin match), Michael Gale, Darren Wheildon, Jamie Elliott and Jason Baldwin.


Once again, off-field financial pressures loomed large as Westpac nearly shut the door on Fitzroy even before the season started. Nevertheless, the Roys still attracted some strong home crowds to games at Princes Park against Footscray, Carlton and Collingwood. It seems questionable whether the proceeds from those games were fairly distributed by the Carlton ground owners.


Pre-Season Competition


Round One: 14 February 1993


Fitzroy        15.9 (99)

Geelong      13.9 (87)


Best Players: Fleming, McCarthy, Broderick, Sartori, Barrett, Baldwin.


Multiple Goalkickers: Sartori 4, Fleming 3, McCarthy 2.[ii]


Quarter Final: 28 February 1993


Fitzroy        13.17 (95)

Footscray   13.12 (90)


Best Players: Armstrong, Lynch, Broderick, Stephens, Wynd, Baldwin.


Multiple Goalkickers: Roos 2, Dunstan 2.[iii]


Semi Final: 10 March 1993



Fitzroy        14.8 (92)

Richmond   15.8 (98)


Best Players: Armstrong, Wynd, Seecamp, Broderick, Baldwin, Matthews, Morrish.


Multiple Goalkickers: Seecamp 2, Lynch 2, Armstrong 2, Dunstan 2.[iv]



Home and Away Series


Round One: 27 March 1993



Fitzroy        5.4, 6.10, 10.14, 17.16 (118)

Carlton       4.2, 9.6, 15.8, 17.10 (112)


Best Players: Armstrong (BOG, 27 disposals), Wynd, Dundas, Lynch, Wheildon, Dunstan.


Multiple Goalkickers: Wheildon 3, Dunstan 3, Sartori 2, Broderick 2.


This was an outstanding first-up fightback victory over the eventual runners-up in front of a big crowd on their home turf. The Roys looked highly competitive all day, but struggled to get their noses in front. The last quarter was a bolter. The Roys booted four goals in a row from Broderick, Armstrong, Broderick again and Lynch to draw level, only for Kernahan to restore a six point lead after the umpire failed to penalize a blatant trip by McKay on Dunstan. Strangely, it was a further terrible home ground umpiring decision that then turned the game. A ridiculous free kick and associated 50 metre penalty and goal to Brent Heaver (who bounced the ball whilst tackled aka Kevin Bartlett 1970) that was furiously protested by Paul Roos gave Carlton a 12 point lead 20 minutes into the final quarter. But goals to Roos (following a strong mark over Silvagni) and Seecamp drew the Roys level with just over two minutes remaining. Finally, it was first gamer Michael Dunstan who drilled the winner with 27 seconds left following a fine pass from Matthew Armstrong that resulted from a brilliant tackle by Broderick on McKay.[v]


Round Two Bye


Round Three: 10 April 1993


Round 3 Highlights can be viewed Here 


Fitzroy        5.5, 8.8, 12.9, 14.14 (98)

Footscray   2.3, 4.9, 10.14, 14.17 (101)

Best Players: Roos, Zanotti, Lynch, Broderick (36 disposals), Wynd, Morrish.


Multiple Goalkickers: McCarthy 4, Lynch 3.


This was a lost opportunity to start the season with two wins in a row. The Roys led by as much as 32 points early in the second quarter and steadied to regain the lead after a Bulldogs fightback in the third quarter, but failed to seal the deal. [vi]


Round Four: 16 April 1993



Fitzroy        1.6, 6.8, 13.10, 15.12 (102)

Adelaide     4.4, 7.8, 12.9, 15.13 (103)


Best Players: Armstrong, McCarthy (14 disposals and 9 marks), Wynd, Broderick, Baldwin.


Multiple Goalkickers: McCarthy 5, Wynd 2, Manson 2, Lyon 2.


Another narrow loss this time away to top side Adelaide. The Roys led by 25 points late in the third quarter, but were just pipped in a tight finish. Recruit John McCarthy, who had missed Round One, continued his fine start to the season, drilling three goals from outside 50 metres in the third quarter. [vii]


Round Five: 23 April 1993


Fitzroy        6.4, 10.12, 13.18, 24.23 (167)

Sydney       3.4, 6.6, 8.7, 11.8 (74)


Best Players: Armstrong (41 disposals), Broderick, McCarthy, Zanotti, Wheildon, Lynch, Dunstan.


Multiple Goalkickers: McCarthy 7, Wheildon 4, Broderick 4, Lynch 2.


The Roys had an easy percentage-boosting win at home over bottom placed Sydney. McCarthy dominated again with seven goals from ten kicks. Glen McFarlane praised his “aerial work and accuracy at goal” as a ‘highlight” of the game. [viii]


Round Six: 2 May 1993


Fitzroy        3.5, 5.5, 10.9, 12.11 (83)

Brisbane     5.0, 8.1, 10.4, 17.8 (110)


Best Players: Dundas, Gale, Lynch, Wynd, Roos, Zanotti.


Multiple Goalkickers: Roos 5, Harding 2.


A disappointing loss to the second bottom team. The Roys led by 11 points five minutes into the last quarter, but ran out of puff.[ix]


Round Seven: 8 May 1993


Fitzroy        3.4, 5.5, 10.7, 12.7 (79)

Melbourne  4.4, 10.6, 10.9, 11.12 (78)


Best Players: Roos (30 disposals and 8 marks), Johnson, Lynch, McCarthy, Stephens, Wynd, Baldwin.


Multiple Goalkickers: McCarthy 4, Lyon 2.


Another nailbiter, but this time the Roys got home to jump into the top six. They trailed by 31 points at half time, but played a brilliant third quarter, and were saved in a tight last quarter by a brilliant smother by Jamie Elliott on a Tingay snap and three desperate marks in the final three minutes by captain Paul Roos. [x]


Round Eight: 14 May 1993



Fitzroy        4.2, 6.5, 8.9, 11.10 (76)

West Coast 2.2, 3.4, 5.10, 7.16 (58)


Best Players: Lynch (BOG), Wynd, Armstrong, Gale, McCarthy, Elliott, Zanotti, Paxman.


Multiple Goalkickers: Lynch 6.


An excellent away win over the 2nd placed reigning premiers who had not lost at home in 15 games since the Roys also knocked them off in Round six 1989. Alastair Lynch proved the match winner with 18 disposals, 8 marks, and six majors including three goals in the first ten minutes of the match backed up by two sealers in the final quarter. The Roys jumped to 4th on the ladder. [xi]


Round Nine: 22 May 1993



Fitzroy                 7.2, 10.4, 11.8, 14.8 (92)

Collingwood         1.1, 3.5, 7.9, 10.13 (73)


Best Players: Baldwin, Lynch, Zanotti, Dundas, Roos, Seecamp, Gale, Wynd.


Multiple Goalkickers: Dundas 5, Lynch 5, McCarthy 2.


In a very similar game to Round 11 1992, the 4th placed Roos held off a late challenge from ladder leaders Collingwood for their third consecutive victory in front of a big home crowd. The Pies came back from 47 points down to draw within 15 points early in the last quarter, but the Roys were not going to let this one slip. Lynch starred again with three straight goals in the opening quarter despite heavy rain, and delivered the sealing final quarter goal following an outstanding pass by wingman Jason Baldwin. [xii]  The Roys had beaten the two premiership favourites in second weeks, and remained 4th on the ladder equal on points with West Coast.


Round 10: 28 May 1993



Fitzroy        5.5, 10.5, 13.10, 19.11 (125)

Essendon    1.4, 6.6, 13.9, 19.15 (129)


Best Players: Lynch (BOG), Wheildon, Gale, Dundas, Wynd, Broderick.


Multiple Goalkickers: Lynch 4, Wheildon 4, Wynd 2, Boyd 2, McCarthy 2.


The Roys led by 30 points in the second quarter against 7th placed Essendon in front of 50,000 at the MCG, and seemed to have the game in hand. Even after a Bombers fightback, they steadied to lead by 8 points with 12 minutes remaining, but veteran Tim Watson inspired an Essendon victory. Lynch almost won the game singlehandedly with 22 disposals and 10 marks. [xiii] A third costly loss by less than six points.


Round 11: 12 June 1993


Fitzroy        2.0, 5.3, 7.6, 7.14 (56)

Richmond   5.1, 5.3, 10.8, 12.10 (82)


Best Players: Elliott, Wynd, Armstrong, McCarthy, Broderick, Zanotti.


Multiple Goalkickers:  McCarthy 2, Morton 2.


A very disappointing lapse at home to second bottom Richmond. The Roys had a strong wind advantage in the final term, but kicked themselves out of the game with eight straight behinds. [xiv]


Round 12: 20 June 1993


Fitzroy        2.5, 5.9, 10.14, 15.16 (106)

Geelong      7.7, 13.9, 14.13, 16.17 (113)


Best Players: Armstrong (BOG, 31 disposals), Dundas, Broderick, Wheildon, Manson, Elliott.


Multiple Goalkickers: Wheildon 4, Lynch 3, Dundas 2, Armstrong 2.


The Roys came back from 54 points down away to Geelong in the second quarter to get within one point at the 28 minute mark of the last quarter. But a 7th goal by Gary Ablett sealed the game.[xv]


 Round 13: 26 June 1993



Fitzroy        2.1, 6.4, 6.5, 12.7 (79)

St Kilda      3.2, 5.4, 13.6, 17.10 (112)


Best Players: Manson, Zanotti, Guard, Seecamp.


Multiple Goalkickers: Harding 2, McCarthy 2, Elliott 2, Lynch 2, Caven 2.


A disappointing 4th loss in a row at the hands of 13th placed St Kilda.[xvi] Down to 11th spot on the ladder.


Round 14: 3 July 1993



Fitzroy                  8.3, 11.4, 13.7, 18.11 (119)

North Melbourne 3.5, 11.8, 15.12, 17.16 (118)


Best Players: McCarthy (BOG), Lynch, Broderick, McGregor, Wynd, Baldwin, Zanotti.


Multiple Goalkickers: Lynch 7, Lyon 3, Manson 2.


The Roys returned to the winning list with a thrilling victory over top placed North Melbourne. The Roys dominated early, but North hit back and seemed to have the game in control leading by 28 points just before three quarter time. But the Roys finished stronger, and Jamie Elliott’s goal at the 29 minute mark seemed to have sealed the game, although a last minute shot from beyond 50 metres by Anthony Stevens nearly changed the result. John McCarthy was outstanding at centre half back restricting North captain Wayne Carey to only seven disposals and one goal. Andrew McGregor made a fine debut with 20 disposals.[xvii]


Round 15: 10 July 1993


Fitzroy        3.1, 5.4, 7.5, 9.10 (64)

Hawthorn   2.5, 4.11, 8.17, 15.20 (110)


Best Players: Paxman, McCarthy, Manson, Wynd, Johnston, Lynch.


Multiple Goalkickers: McCarthy 3, Lynch 3.


The Roys battled hard for two quarters, but were eclipsed after half time by 2nd placed Hawthorn.[xviii]


Round 16: 17 July 1993


Fitzroy        3.3, 10.6, 11.8, 14.11 (95)

Carlton       2.4, 7.8, 18.14, 27.19 (181)


Best Players: Broderick (34 disposals), Armstrong, Stephens, Lynch, Roos.


Multiple Goalkickers: Lynch 6, Dunstan 4, Zanotti 2.


The Roys looked well set at half time to cause a second upset for the year against 3rd placed Carlton, but were blitzed in the second half. Nevertheless, there were some positives. Alastair Lynch starred with four goals in the first half, but was later hampered by a strained hamstring. Dunstan booted four goals in an eight minute purple patch in the second quarter.[xix]


Round 17: Bye


Round 18: 31 July 1993


Fitzroy        2.0, 6.1, 10.3, 13.6 (84)

Footscray   7.1, 10.4, 16.10, 22.14 (146)


Best Players: Lynch, Roos, Baldwin, Armstrong, Wynd, McCarthy.


Multiple Goalkickers: Lynch 8, McCarthy 3.


The Roys never looked likely away to 10th placed Footscray. Lynch played a lone hand up forward with eight goals from 12 kicks. The Roys were warmly welcomed by Footscray pre-game as co-tenants for the 1994 season.[xx]


Round 19: 7 August 1993



Fitzroy        4.2, 7.5, 10.6, 15.9 (99)

Adelaide     1.4, 6.8, 10.11, 13.16 (94)


Best Players: Baldwin (33 disposals), Armstrong (34 disposals), Lynch, Broderick (33 disposals), McCarthy, Wynd, Boyd.


Multiple Goalkickers: Lynch 6, Armstrong 2.


The Roys just held off 5th placed Adelaide at home despite Tony Modra slotting his 100th goal for the season. Youngsters Tom Kavanagh, Frank Bizzotto and Simon Hawking contributed significantly to the victory as did Alastair Lynch who dobbed four goals in the opening quarter, and Jim Wynd who successfully tagged gun Crows midfielder Tony McGuiness.[xxi]


Round 20: 13 August 1993


Fitzroy        9.0, 12.6, 16.9, 17.12 (114)

Sydney       3.1, 8.3, 14.7, 15.9 (99)


Best Players: Broderick (BOG, 32 disposals), Lynch, Wheildon, Armstrong, Dunstan, McGregor, Roos, Johnston.


Multiple Goalkickers: Wheildon 8, Lynch 4, Paxman 2.


The Roys held off a late surge from bottom side Sydney at the SCG. Doc Wheildon starred with eight goals from 12 kicks, but was later fined and suspended by the Club after failing to turn up to a scheduled spot on the World of Sport handball competition. [xxii]


Round 21: 21 August 1993


Fitzroy        5.5, 11.7, 20.13, 22.15 (147)

Brisbane     0.0, 1.3, 1.5, 5.13 (43)


Best Players: Sartori, Lynch, Zanotti, Armstrong, Roos, Dunstan, Lyon.


Multiple Goalkickers: Lynch 7, Dunstan 3, Lyon 3, Wynd 2, McCarthy 2.


A very easy home victory over third bottom Brisbane in front of a tiny crowd for the Roys final home game at Princes Park. Ruckman Peter Sartori dominated with 32 disposals, 12 marks, and 9 hitouts. Lynch took 13 marks and booted seven goals four. The Fitzroy cheer squad banner aptly summarized negative feelings towards their landlord, stating: The deal with Carlton was a total farce. Let’s win this final game and stick it up their rrrr”. [xxiii]


Round 22: 29 August 1993


Fitzroy        4.4, 10.8, 14.11, 14.14 (98)

Melbourne  1.2, 2.5, 4.8, 11.9 (75)


Best Players: Sartori, Baldwin (40 disposals), Dunstan, Broderick, Hawking, McGregor.


Multiple Goalkickers: Wheildon 4, Dunstan 3, Lynch 2.


The Roys easily defeated 9th placed Melbourne at the MCG to finish the season on a high with four straight wins. Ruckman Peter Sartori was again outstanding with 25 disposals, 14 marks and 9 hitouts. [xxiv]


Top Ten Best and Fairest


Alastair Lynch 209

John McCarthy 107

Paul Broderick 106

Matthew Armstrong 85

Jamie Elliott 84

Mark Zanotti 82

Jim Wynd 71

Paul Roos 60

Jason Baldwin 54

Peter Sartori 42[xxv]


Top Ten Brownlow Votes


11: Matthew Armstrong (equal 15th)

10: Alastair Lynch

6: James Wynd

5: Paul Broderick, Paul Roos

3: Matthew Dundas, Michael Gale, James Manson, Peter Sartori, Darren Wheildon


Top Ten Goalkickers


Alastair Lynch 68 (8th in AFL goalkicking table)

John McCarthy 40

Darren Wheildon 28

Michael Dunstan 20

Ross Lyon 15

Matthew Dundas 13

James Wynd 13

Matthew Armstrong 12

Paul Broderick 11

Paul Roos 8

Dean Harding 8




At the end of 1993, the player drain accelerated. Fitzroy lost Lynch, Broderick and Elliott (who had all finished top five in the club Best and Fairest) plus Caven, Gale and Dundas to other clubs. Additionally, Abbott and Stephens (who had finished top 10 in the 1992 B and F) retired. Lynch was irreplaceable, and unfortunately the Roys attempted to substitute him with veteran Richmond forward Jeff Hogg who arrived at the club with a chronic injury that prevented his best football. Additionally, the Roys struck a deal to play their home games at Footscray’s Western Oval from 1994. The move from Princes Park was probably inevitable given Carlton’s unwillingness to negotiate an equitable ground sharing arrangement, but unfortunately the Western Oval was not popular with either Roys or opposition supporters. The last three years of Fitzroy were characterized by an increasingly uncompetitive team playing in front of small home crowds. It was a sad end to a proud club’s 100 year history.


[i] Many thanks to my friend Noel Murray for kindly lending me his detailed Scrapbook of the 1993 season.


[ii] Ashley Browne (1993) “Lions win for club and pride”, The Age, 15 February.


[iii] Michael Stevens (1993) “Fitzroy grabs Cup chance”, Herald Sun, 29 February.


[iv] Len Johnson and Greg Denham (1993) The Age, 11 March.


[v] Glen Quartermain (1993) “Lion coach stands by his forward”, Herald Sun, 28 March; Michael Lovett (1993) “Lions snatch dramatic win”, The Age, 28 March; Pete Carter (2020) Fitzroy’s Fabulous Century. Mr Smudge Books. Fremantle, pp.255-258.


[vi] Richard Hinds (1993) “Dogs scrap in as Lions falter”, The Age, 11 April.


[vii] Max Foran (1993) “Crows steal win over brave Roys”, The Age, 17 April: Bruce Matthews (1993) “Lions give other clubs hope”, Herald Sun, 17 April.


[viii] Glen McFarlane (1993) “Dying swans easy prey for killer Lions”, Herald Sun, 25 April: Gerald Wright (1993) “Ruthless Lions hit a new high”, The Age, 25 April.


[ix] Renard Peters (1993), Herald Sun, 3 May.


[x] Paul Gough (1993) “Brave Lions hang on”, Herald Sun, 9 May; Linda Pearce (1993) “Lions walk the tightrope”, The Age, 9 May.


[xi]  John Weir (1993) “Injury-hit Eagles no match for classy Lions”, The Age, 15 May; Glen Quartermain (1993) “Lions Roar”, Herald Sun, 15 May; Pete Carter (2020) Fitzroy’s Fabulous Century. Mr Smudge Books. Fremantle, pp.93-95.


[xii] Mark Harding (1993) “Shaw’s Lions ahead of the pack”, Herald Sun, 23 May; Richard Hinds (1993) “Lions have all the answers”, The Age, 23 May; Richard Hinds (1993) “New pride in the Lions”, The Age, 23 May.


[xiii]  Bruce Matthews (1993) “Lions go down fighting”, Herald Sun, 29 May.


[xiv] Trent Bouts (1993) “Roos grits and bears a sorry loss”, Herald Sun, 13 June.


[xv] Bruce Matthews (1993) Herald Sun, 21 June.


[xvi] Ashley Browne (1993) “Lions’ game plan runs off the rails but Shaw still defiant”, The Age, 27 June.


[xvii] Glenn Connley (1993) “Lions claim another top scalp”, Herald Sun, 4 July; Pete Carter, Ibid, pp.114-116.


[xviii] Geoff Poulter (1993) Herald Sun, 11 July.


[xix] Daryl Timms (1993) Herald Sun, 18 July.


[xx] Howard Leigh (1993) Herald Sun, 1 August.


[xxi] Howard Leigh (1993) “Lions humble Crows”, Herald Sun, 8 August; Michael Lovett (1993) “Loss dents Crows’ finals hopes”, The Age, 8 August; Tony De Bolfo (1993) “Lions do it with guts”, Herald Sun, 9 August.


[xxii] Mark Ray (1993) “Shaw rues what might have been”, The Age, 14 August: Paul Gough (1993) “Lions rally as Swans fly home”, Herald Sun, 14 August; Russell Holmesby (2020) The Death of Fitzroy. Hardie Grant Books, Melbourne, pp.150-151.


[xxiii] Martin Blake (1993) “Roys’ play matches rhetoric”, The Age, 22 August; Graham Burke (1993) “Lions maul Bears”, Herald Sun, 22 August; Tony De Bolfo (1993) “Fitzroy aims to finish on high”, Herald Sun, 23 August.


[xxiv] Trent Bouts (1993) “Gutsy Lions survive late charge”, Herald Sun, 30 August; Greg Denham (1993) “Lions give a muted roar”, The Age, 30 August.


[xxv] Thanks to Pete Carter for kindly providing the details of Fitzroy’s Best and Fairest votes for 1993.




More from Philip Mendes can be read Here.


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About Philip Mendes

Philip Mendes is an academic who follows AFL, soccer, tennis and cricket. He supported Fitzroy Football Club from 1970-1996, and on their death he adopted the North Melbourne Kangaroos as his new team. In his spare time, he occasionally writes about his current and past football teams.


  1. Thanks for this summary of Fitzroy’s last “competitive” season, Phil.
    Lions supporters wouldn’t have wanted to have had a dodgy ticker in 1993, with the final two preseason and first three home-and-away games decided by a maximum of six points.
    Interesting that the four successive victories to end the year were against Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.
    It’s just a shame that West Coast, who the Roys beat in Round 8, weren’t called Perth.

  2. Pete, yes lots of close matches. The Roys that year seemed to have a strange pattern of building up big leads, and then letting the opposition back into the game. It certainly made for some tense finishes.

  3. george smith says

    Oh yeah, I remember Collingwood president Alan Macallister musing about putting a Lion on the Magpie sock, if we merged with Fitzroy. Might have been 92, but I can’t be sure. It was only a suggestion…

    Fitz bleep roy responded in their usual fashion by indulging in one of their “how dare they” upset wins against Collingwood – never seemed to happen against Carlton or Hawthorn. Alan then offered a deal to Paul Roos, who swore undying loyalty to the Fitzies – and 2 years later he was gone – to Sydney…

    Yet again they helped wreck a Magpie season. Thanks a bunch Fitzroy.

  4. Hi George, I don’t think Alan McAllister needed much help from Fitzroy or other clubs to derail Collingwood. Remember 1993 was the year of the Nicky Winmar racism incident (both the abuse by supporters at the game and the follow-up comments by McAllister) which completely discredited Collingwood, and ironically also ended up creating internal divisions and drama at St Kilda that undermined their chances.

  5. george smith says

    Phil you are not wrong about 93. There was the racism debacle at Vic Park followed by the massacre by North Melbourne, the humiliation by Essendon and the soggy end to the season against Carlton in the rain.

    All this came later after we were derailed by our usual speed hump, Fitzroy. Apart from all the other times, 81,86,83, the same thing happened in 89. Fitzroy took our finals spot, leading to a battle royal at Waverley. For once the Magpies prevailed.

    St Kilda – well, in 1994 Tony Lockett broke Peter Caven’s nose on the way to kicking 9 goals against the Swans. The following year he was traded to Sydney, go figure…

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