Almanac Football History: Fitzroy’s last finals series, the fabulous 1986 season







1986 was a season of extreme contrasts for Fitzroy. Off the field, it was a time of chronic financial crisis and serious threats of merger or extinction. Fundraising rallies were held in March and again in June to enable the Lions to survive the year. [i] Club Chairman Leon Wiegard later acknowledged that the Lions came ‘so close to oblivion’.[ii]




But on the field, the Lions ‘covered themselves with glory’.[iii] They won five of their last six home and away games to finish with 13 wins and nine losses, and secured fourth spot on the ladder. They then scored two thrilling finals victories before falling in the Preliminary Final to eventual premier Hawthorn. The third place finish was their highest since 1960.




Individual highlights included:


  • Paul Roos finishing a close third in the Brownlow Medal with 16 votes, one behind the joint winners. There was some controversy about this result given Roos was judged by many commentators to be best on ground in the last home and away game against Sydney, but failed to poll even one vote.[iv]


  • 21-year-old rookie Mark Dwyer coming from Koroit mid-season to star in 11 games and gain ten Brownlow votes.[v]



This was Superboot Bernie Quinlan’s last season with the club. Although weighed down by a chronic achilles injury, he still managed at the age of 34 (he turned 35 in July 1986) to dob 50 goals from 17 games (including a number of games where he went off injured early). This gave him a final tally of 576 goals from his 189 games with Fitzroy.[vi]





Round 1: 29 March 1986





Fitzroy        6.7  11.9  13.11  16.16 (112)

Geelong         1.4   4.6   8.12   11.18 (84)


Best players: Roos (29 disposals and six marks), Barwick, L. Harris, Pert, Lyon, Turner, Osborne, Quinlan.


Multiple Goalkickers: Quinlan, B. Harris 4, McIvor, Osborne, Turner 2.




An excellent start to the season, winning away at Geelong where the home team was always a challenge. First quarter highlights included McIvor snapping a major, Quinlan running into an open goal at the end of excellent team play, Lyon cleverly marking and goaling, Bernie Harris dashing into his own open goal, and Osborne taking two bounces before kicking another home. McIvor kicked a fine snap in the second quarter followed by a fine mark and goal by Osborne and a slick handball by Lyon to set Bernie Harris. Leon Harris dobbed a classy goal in the third quarter followed by a nice snap by Turner. Bernie Harris drilled a good left foot snap in the last quarter, and Quinlan sealed the game with a long drop punt on the run. Also watch out for a top pack mark by Quinlan in the second quarter.




This was the last game that rising star Ross Lyon (note his slick handballs in the game highlights package) would play in season 1986. Despite rumours that he had been paid by Carlton to leave Fitzroy, he in fact had a chronic groin injury which would heal sufficiently for him to finally return in late 1987.[vii]




Round 2: 5 April 1986






Fitzroy    4.4   4.8   6.13  10.19 (79)

Footscray  1.1    4.2   9.6   10.9 (69)


Best players: McIvor (28 disposals BOG), Roos, L. Harris, Conlan, Rendell, Lawrie.


Multiple Goalkickers: Quinlan 4, Osborne 3, Conlan 2.



A good comeback from 17 points down early in the last quarter. The Lions nearly threw this game away with poor conversion in front of goal, but fortunately nailed their chances in the final stanza. Highlights included a classy snap by Quinlan in the opening quarter, a sharp pass by McIvor to Quinlan at full stretch who marked and goaled, Conlan goaling on the run in the third quarter assisted by a shrewd shepherd from Quinlan followed by a long goal from a mark right on three quarter time. The last quarter included a chain of handballs to Quinlan for an open goal, a sharp handball by Keane to Turner for a goal, a mark and long goal by Quinlan to seize the lead, and finally a mark and goal by Osborne to seal the game.




Round 3: 12 April 1986





Fitzroy        4.3  8.12  10.16  14.20 (104)

Melbourne   4.3   7.4    10.9   13.10 (88)


Best players: Osborne, Pert, L. Harris (23 disposals), Thornton, Quinlan (18 disposals, eight marks and three goals six), Blakey, McIvor, Pekin.


Multiple Goalkickers: Osborne 4, Quinlan, Conlan 3, Barwick 2.




This was the Lions’ best start to a season since 1961. They sat fourth on the ladder, but equal top on percentage. Highlights included marks and goals by Quinlan and Rendell in the first quarter, a fine snap by Knight in the second quarter followed by a superb pass by Rendell to Quinlan who dobbed his second goal, and an excellent goal by Osborne from the boundary line in the third quarter. Quinlan drilled a long goal from a mark in the last quarter followed by classy goals from Conlan and Barwick to ice the game.




Round 4: 19 April 1986





Fitzroy    2.4    3.6      6.9     10.15 (75)

Carlton     5.8   12.13   18.19  22.24 (156)


Best players: L. Harris, Thornton, McIvor, Pert, Roos, Quinlan (Six marks and three goals four).


Multiple Goalkickers: Quinlan 3



A rude reality test for the Roys in front of a large vocal home crowd at Princes Park resulting in a percentage drop of nearly 30 and back to fifth on the ladder. There were few highlights other than a sharp handball from Quinlan gifting an open goal to Tilley.




Round 5: 26 April 1986





Fitzroy     3.10  4.13  12.23  13.26 (104)

Hawthorn  3.4    4.7     6.9     13.12 (90)


Best players: Pert (29 disposals), Rendell, L. Harris, Blakey, G. Osborne, McIvor, Pekin, Roos.


Multiple Goalkickers: R. Osborne 3, Quinlan, Rendell, L. Harris 2.



A solid victory over eventual premier Hawthorn. The Roys opened up a major lead that should have been bigger if not for poor kicking at goal, and then had to hold off a late Hawks fightback. Highlights included a lovely snap by Pert in the first quarter, and a dominant third quarter including Rendell goaling on the run followed by a sharp handball from Bernie Harris to gift Quinlan a goal, a left foot snap by Bernie Harris, a strong mark and long goal by Osborne, a goal on the run by Quinlan, a long bomb by Rendell, a huge goal by Osborne, and a long goal on the run by Rowe. Finally, Leon Harris sealed the game with a clever late final quarter goal under pressure.




Round 6: 3 May 1986





Fitzroy       5.6  11.8  15.11  18.13 (121)

Richmond   6.6  9.11  15.14  17.20 (122)


Best players: Roos, L. Harris (32 disposals), G. Osborne, Pert, McIvor, R. Osborne.


Multiple Goalkickers: Quinlan 6, R. Osborne 4, Pert 3, Roos 2.



A narrow but costly loss to seventh-placed Richmond after a close final quarter. Highlights included Pert running into an open goal in the first quarter followed by a similar goal to Quinlan and a strong mark and goal by Osborne, two fine snap goals by Quinlan in the second quarter, a huge mark by Pert in the third quarter followed by a strong mark and goal by Barwick, a Roos mark and then goal in the final quarter, and a goal by Conlan on the run. Fitzroy had a number of chances late in the game to seize victory. Unfortunately, Quinlan and Rowe both kicked out on the full, and then Osborne and Quinlan spoiled each other attempting to take what should have been an easy mark in the goal square.




Round 7: 10 May 1986


Fitzroy  3.6   5.7  11.13   12.15 (87)

St Kilda  3.4   4.6   7.10   10.14 (74)


Best players: L. Harris, Conlan, Keane, Barwick, Lokan, McIvor.


Multiple Goalkickers: Conlan 4, B. Harris 3, Barwick 2.



A valuable win away over bottom side St Kilda to maintain fifth spot on the ladder. A highlight was a dashing long goal on the run by Conlan.




Round 8: 17 May 1986





Fitzroy                    4.4   9.7   11.11   14.13 (97)

North Melbourne    3.3   5.9   14.10  18.12 (120)


Best players: Lokan (31 disposals), Roos (26 disposals and eight marks), Turner, McIvor, Rendell, Barwick.


Multiple Goalkickers: Barwick 4, Conlan, Quinlan 2.

The Roys were dominant in the first half, but got blitzed by an improving North side in the third term. Stayed fifth on the ladder, but with a poor percentage and only one game ahead of North. Highlights included an early goal on the run by Lawrie, Quinlan getting his foot to a bouncing ball on the goal line, a left foot snap by Osborne, an open goal to Quinlan, a clever goal by Leon Harris late in the third quarter, and a fine last quarter snap by Conlan.




Round 9: 24 May 1986





Fitzroy       1.2   5.4   9.6    18.7 (115)

Essendon    1.3   6.4   10.7  10.10 (70)


Best players: Conlan, Keane, Knight, Barwick, G. Osborne, Wynd, R. Osborne.


Multiple Goalkickers:  Osborne, Conlan, Keane 5.


The Roys destroyed the reigning premiers with an amazing final quarter burst of nine goals including five majors in the first 10 minutes. Richard Osborne thrilled the crowd with a screamer over Gary Foulds that gave the Lions a 17 point lead. He booted four in the last quarter. Tall, inconsistent forward Gary Keane played probably his best ever game for Fitzroy with 12 disposals, six marks and five goals. There was also an excellent debut by young Jimmy Wynd with 21 disposals and a delightful left foot goal. Other highlights included fine team play by Roos to Rendell to Keane who goaled in the first quarter, a pass by Wynd to Osborne to goal, a sharp handball by Barwick for Conlan to goal on the run,  a Keane pack mark in the goal square, a mark and long goal by Keane, and Conlan off the ground. And all this despite Bernie Quinlan leaving the ground early in the first quarter with a twisted ankle.[viii]




Round 10: 1 June 1986


Fitzroy   5.3   8.9  12.14  14.17 (101)

Sydney     4.4   9.8  13.11  18.18 (126)


Best players: McIvor (30 disposals), Roos, Blakey, L. Harris, G. Osborne, Turner.


Multiple Goalkickers: R. Osborne 4, McGrath 2.


The Roys stayed close for three quarters, but ran out of puff in the final quarter away to second-placed Sydney. Dropped down to sixth on percentage. Highlights included a left foot snap by Osborne, a mark and goal by Osborne, and a fine snap by Blakey.




Round 11: 7 June 1986


Fitzroy            3.0    5.4    7.8   11.12 (78)

Collingwood    10.4   11.6  16.9  18.14 (122)


Best players: G. Osborne, Barwick, L. Harris, Rendell, Roos.


Multiple Goalkickers: Barwick 3, Conlan, Keane, McGrath, R. Osborne 2.


Fitzroy were blown away by powerful Collingwood full forward Brian Taylor in the first quarter (surprisingly matched up by his former team mate Peter McCormack who had recently crossed over to the Roys) and never got back in the game. There were some highlights including a left foot snap by Barwick, Osborne off the ground, McGrath dobbing a long goal, Osborne marking and kicking a long goal, and Conlan goaling on the run.




Round 12: 14 June 1986


Fitzroy   3.2   8.6   14.8   22.13 (145)

Geelong   2.4   4.8    8.9    11.11 (77)


Best players: Roos (23 disposals and nine marks), Clayton (36 disposals), R. Osborne (26 disposals, seven marks and six goals five), Turner, Knight, McIvor.


Multiple Goalkickers: R. Osborne 6, Quinlan 5, Mitchell, Knight, Conlan 2.


A solid four quarter performance against lowly Geelong returned the Roys to fifth place. Highlights included a grass cutter pass from McIvor to Quinlan for a goal, Clayton passing to McGrath who goaled, Osborne off the ground, Osborne marking in the goal square and goaling, Osborne nailing a classy snap from the right forward pocket, Osborne marking and passing to Quinlan who dobbed a lovely goal from the boundary line, Knight goaling on the run, Lokan dashing into an open goal, and Quinlan taking a nice mark and kicking his fourth goal.




Round 13: 21 June 1986





Fitzroy      2.1   4.3    6.5     8.7 (55)

Footscray   8.1   10.5  16.7   22.11 (143)


Best players: Clayton, L. Harris, Barwick, Pert.


Multiple Goalkickers: Barwick, Pert 2.


Never looked likely against the Bulldogs at the inhospitable Western Oval. The Dogs replaced the Roys in fifth spot. A few highlights including a long goal by Barwick early in the game, a long goal by Keane, an Osborne snap, a left foot snap by Clayton, a high mark and goal by Pert in the third quarter, a screamer by Roos at centre half back, a long 55 metre goal by Pert, and a long running goal by Barwick.




Round 14: 28 June 1986


Fitzroy         0.1   4.3   8.5     11.5 (71)

Melbourne    7.5   9.6   15.9   17.13 (115)


Best players: Roos, Clayton, Conlan, Pekin, Quinlan, Turner.


Multiple Goalkickers: Quinlan 4, R. Osborne 3, Barwick 2.


Fitzroy hit their lowest ebb of the season falling easily to second bottom Melbourne. Down to eighth spot on the ladder. There were some highlights including a fine goal square mark and goal by Quinlan, a Roos mark and pass to Osborne resulting in a long goal, a lovely goal on the run by Conlan, and a Conlan pass to McGrath who goaled.




Round 15: 4 July 1986


Fitzroy    3.3   6.5   8.10   8.11 (59)

Carlton     2.4   4.6   4.10    7.11 (53)


Best players: L. Harris, Mark Dwyer (28 disposals on debut), R. Osborne (15 disposals, six marks, and four goals five), Lokan, Thornton, Turner.


Multiple Goalkickers: Osborne 4, Dwyer 2.


A gallant win by the Lions (missing Quinlan and their top two ruckman) against third placed Carlton at Waverley Park. Young wingman Mark Dwyer starred on debut.  Highlights included Dwyer passing to Osborne, Dwyer passing to Roos who handballed to Conlan for a goal, Dwyer dashing into an open goal, and Dwyer passing to Osborne who drilled a smart left foot snap from the boundary.




Round 16: 19 July 1986


Fitzroy            5.1   10.4   10.6   12.13 (85)

Collingwood    2.4    5.6    13.7   20.12 (132)


Best players: Roos, Dwyer, L. Harris, McIvor.


Multiple Goalkickers: R. Osborne 3, Barwick, Lawrie 2.


A bad loss to fifth placed Collingwood after controlling the first half. The few highlights included a left foot snap by Osborne, a Barwick pass to Williamson for a mark and goal, and a good goal on the run by Barwick.




Round 17: 26 July 1986


Fitzroy       1.4   4.7   10.9   14.12 (96)

Hawthorn   2.2   4.7   6.8      6.9 (45)


Best players: Roos, Turner, Dwyer, Pekin (27 disposals), Thornton, Reeves, R. Osborne, Lokan.


Multiple Goalkickers: Osborne 5, Boaden 2.


A huge away win in muddy conditions over top of the ladder Hawthorn. Osborne booted five. Debutant Darren Bolden added two goals from 15 disposals.[ix] Highlights included a big mark by Osborne, a goal square mark and goal to Osborne, Bolden dashing into an open goal in the third quarter, and Bolden marking and goaling.




Round 18: 2 August 1986


Fitzroy        3.4   6.9    10.10   13.16 (94)

Richmond    4.1   7.11    10.16   11.19 (85)


Best players: Dwyer (BOG), Pert, Roos (28 disposals), Blakey, B. Harris, Hinchen, Lokan, McIvor, Pekin, Conlan.


Multiple Goalkickers: B. Harris, Conlan 4, R. Osborne 3.


A vital come from behind victory over ninth placed Richmond left the Lions with 10 wins in seventh place, but only percentage off fourth. A highlight was Conlan dashing into an open goal.




Round 19: 9 August 1986


Fitzroy    6.3   11.9   18.12   24.16 (160)

St Kilda     4.3    7.6    8.6      11.9 (75)


Best players: Roos, Pert, Dwyer, Clayton, Lokan, Blakey, Conlan, B. Harris, Hinchen, McIvor.


Multiple Goalkickers: Quinlan 5, Conlan 4, B. Harris, Osborne 3.


An easy all the way win over bottom side St Kilda propelled Fitzroy back into the five for the first time since Round 12. A highlight was a fabulous snap by Lokan from the right forward pocket.




Round 20: 16 August 1986


Fitzroy                     4.3   5.3    7.6    9.7 (61)

North Melbourne    5.2    9.3   11.7   14.9 (93)


Best players: Roos, B. Harris, Lokan, Clayton, Quinlan.


Multiple Goalkickers: B. Harris 4, Quinlan 3.


A bad loss to fellow finals aspirant North Melbourne sent the Roys back to seventh spot with only two games left to play, both against top five sides. The few highlights included a pass by Bernie Harris to Quinlan who goaled, a snap over his head by Bernie Harris, and a handball by Quinlan to McIvor who goaled.




Round 21: 23 August 1986





Fitzroy      6.4   8.6   11.9   14.12 (96)

Essendon    1.2   5.9   6.11    8.13 (61)


Best players: Dwyer, Roos (28 disposals), Conlan, R. Osborne, Rendell, Pert.


Multiple Goalkickers: Quinlan 4.


A massive away victory over fourth placed Essendon to celebrate Paul Roos’ 100th game. Back into fifth spot with one game to go. Highlights included a Barwick pass to McGrath who goaled, a Bernie Harris snap under pressure, a Quinlan right foot snap labelled ‘great goal Bernie’ by Channel Seven commentator Sandy Roberts, a long goal by Clayton, and a big goal by Quinlan following a free kick.




Round 22: 30 August 1986


Fitzroy   4.9   5.12   8.17   9.19 (73)

Sydney     1.3    4.7    5.9     8.15 (63)


Best players: Lokan, Pert, Roos, R. Osborne, Thornton, Reeves, Barwick.


Multiple Goalkickers: Barwick 3, Conlan 2.


The Roys led all day at home against the second placed Swans to secure a finals spot, finishing in fourth place with 13 wins and nine losses. Highlights included a left foot snap by Hinchen, a left foot snap by Bernie Harris, a Lokan left foot snap, a sharp handball by Osborne to Conlan for an open goal, a Barwick left foot snap that took a bizarre bounce in the rain, hail and wind to go through, a miraculous goal by Conlan from the boundary line, and a classy long goal by Barwick to seal the game.




Finals Footy


Elimination Final: 6 September 1986





Fitzroy      4.2  4.4   6.8   8.10 (58)

Essendon    2.1  4.3    7.5   8.9 (57)


Best players: McIvor (25 disposals BOG), Pekin (25 disposals), Pert, Reeves, Roos, Turner, L. Harris.


Multiple Goalkickers: Barwick, B. Harris 2.


Despite missing key big men in Quinlan and Rendell, the Roys somehow edged out reigning premier Essendon in a thriller on a cold wet day at Waverley Park. This match became famous for Mick Conlan’s last minute goal that regained the lead for Fitzroy. Conlan had been effectively tagged all day by Michael Thomson, and restricted to only five disposals. But after Paul Roos won a free kick for holding the ball against Michael Richardson, he handballed to Leon Harris who brilliantly evaded two Essendon tacklers in the centre, and then switched the play to Conlan who was on his own on the right half forward flank. Conlan dobbed it from 35 metres out. [x]



Conlan later commented: ‘I’d run around the pack to shake off Thomson and managed to get out of his sight for the first time all day. When I got the ball I had nothing but thoughts that I‘ve got it now and I’ll kick the goal. There was never any doubt’.[xi]



Other highlights included long goals by McIvor and Barwick in the opening quarter, outstanding play by Pert gaining about 50 metres knocking the ball along the boundary line in the second quarter, a Barwick left foot snap in the third and a fine snap by Bernie Harris in the final quarter that briefly gave the Lions the lead.



Paul Roos recalled the post-match celebration: ‘I will never forget the emotion shown by players and supporters alike as we came off the ground. There were women, children and grown men all crying tears of joy and waving Fitzroy scarves, beanies, and jumpers in a display of excitement and exhilaration that I have never seen repeated. This was Fitzroy’s moment, when every problem was forgotten, when it didn’t matter about money or power or mergers. All that mattered was Micky’s goal and the maroon, gold and blue’.[xii]




Qualifying Final: 14 September 1986





Fitzroy    4.4   6.8   8.14   13.16 (94)

Sydney      3.2    8.5   11.8   13.11 (89)


Best players: Lokan (BOG), Clayton, Rendell, Pekin, Conlan, R. Osborne, Pert, Lawrie, Blakey, McIvor, Roos.


Multiple Goalkickers: Conlan 4, Quinlan 3, R. Osborne 2.


Key players Quinlan and Rendell returned for the first semi. The Roys started well, struggled in the two middle quarters to fall 20 points behind in the third quarter, but finished with a vengeance. [xiii]  Highlights included a Conlan left foot snap in the first quarter, Conlan running into an open goal in the second, Osborne taking a smart mark and passing quickly to Conlan who goaled in the third followed by a Conlan goal on the run. The Roys booted four goals in eight minutes in the last quarter to seize the lead. Dwyer handballed to Lokan for a long goal, Bernie Harris kicked an amazing bouncing snap which Osborne toe-poked through on the line to bring the Roys within a point, Bernie Harris snapped a third to put the Roys in front, and then Quinlan grabbed the ball from a ball up and drilled a left foot snap. McIvor later kicked a long goal to extend the lead to 11 points.




Preliminary Final: 20 September 1986





Fitzroy      4.4   4.9   6.10   7.12 (54)

Hawthorn   5.3   8.5   13.7   16.14 (110)


Best players: Roos, Lokan, Clayton, R. Osborne.


Multiple Goalkickers: Quinlan 3.


The Roys burst out of the blocks kicking three goals two to nothing in the first ten minutes, and a dream run to the Grand Final looked likely. Quinlan kicked two amazing snaps (the first aided by outstanding shepherding from Barwick), and Osborne added another from a free kick. But the experienced Hawks pegged them back, and then eclipsed Fitzroy in the second half. Other highlights included a McGrath snap in the first quarter, a towering Roos mark in the second quarter, a Conlan goal on the run in the third quarter followed by a Quinlan mark and goal which reduced the difference to 14 points, and finally a mark and goal by Rendell and a five bounce run by Conlan in the last quarter.



But the Lions ran out of legs with nearly half the side including Roos (who had to have pain killing injections to an injured ankle to start the game), Leon Harris, Pert, Rendell and Quinlan carrying major injuries. That was in addition to Michael Reeves who was sensationally knocked out by Dipper as he ran onto the ground from the interchange hours before he was due to get married. [xiv]






This was Fitzroy’s last finals series in the VFL/AFL. The retirement of club great Bernie Quinlan at the end of 1986 plus the loss of core players such as Bernie Harris and Dean Turner to other clubs eroded their player depth. Although Fitzroy picked up some good recruits in Matthew Armstrong, Alistair Lynch, Brett Stephens and Darren Kappler for season 1987, they were never again a serious finals contender albeit they went close in 1989 mostly due to the exceptional season from Richard Osborne.








Top Ten Fitzroy Best and Fairest



Paul Roos 189


Scott McIvor 112


Leon Harris 108


Gary Pert 105


Tim Pekin 87


Dean Turner 71


Scott Clayton 57


Michael Conlan 47


Bill Lokan 45


Richard Osborne 40




Top Ten Fitzroy Goal kickers


Richard Osborne 64


Bernie Quinlan 50


Michael Conlan 45


Bernie Harris 37


Doug Barwick 30


Craig McGrath 11


Gary Keane 10


Gary Pert 10


Scott McIvor 9


Scott Clayton 7





[i] Russell Holmesby (2020) The Death of Fitzroy Football Club.  Hardie Grant Books, Melbourne, pp.76-79; Jim Main (2007) Fitzroy. Bas Publishing, p.216.


[ii] Leon Wiegard (1986) ‘Chairman’s Report’ in Fitzroy Football Club Limited 103rd Annual Report and Balance Sheet Season 1986, p.3.


[iii] Wiegard, p.3.


[iv] Garrie Hutchinson, Rick Lang and John Ross (1997) Roar of the Lions: Fitzroy Remembered 1883-1996. Lothian Books, Melbourne, p.79; Holmesby, pp.90-91.


[v] Paul Daffey (2003) ‘Bush prodigy who road a rollercoaster’, The Age, 20 September.


[vi] Main, p.217.


[vii] Holmesby, p.78.


[viii] Pete Carter (2020) Fitzroy’s Fabulous Century: The 100 Greatest Victories 1897-1996. Mr Smudge Books, Perth, pp.108-110.


[ix] Carter, pp.101-03.


[x] Carter, pp.336-340.


[xi] David Rhys-Jones (2012) ‘Danger: Explosive’, Inside Football, 4 April, p.26.


[xii] Paul Roos (1997) Beyond 300: An Autobiography. Random House, Sydney, p.162.


[xiii] Linda Pearce (2001) ‘An old-fashioned suburban battle’, The Age, 15 September; Carter, pp.261-265.


[xiv] Holmesby, pp.85, 86 and 89; Roos, pp.162-165.





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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. Colin Ritchie says

    Terrific report Phillip! As an Essendon supporter I was at VFL Park when Mickey Conlan broke our hearts. I thought the game was ours until then.

  2. One hell of a last hurrah and if not for a few too many close finishes who knows what could have happened in 1993.

    That Round 6 game against Richmond was also famous for Michael Reeves blowing his stack after flubbing a kick-in then getting caught by Michael Roach. He made record time running out to umpire (Chris Mitchell, was it?) to argue his case and give him the ol’ double-bird.

    The last five minutes is frenetic end-to-end stuff.

  3. Mark Dwyer had an amazing finish to the year, yet was out of the system 2 years later.
    I think he initially p,Ayer his first game on permit as Koroit had a bye in the Hampden League or was an inter league match.
    Fitzroy also tried to get Ken Hinkley I think as well that year, Ken had played reserves in 1984 but went back to Camperdown homesick. Fitzroy tried again in 1986 but Camperdown were on top of the ladder so he didn’t want to leave ( would eventually lose the GF to Warrnambool who was coached by Grant Thomas). Hinkley came to a Fitzroy in 1987

  4. Literally just before my time Philip, though some names I enjoyed watching in later years popped up (Roos, Osbourne, Wynd). What an incredible season from the Roys; especially that game against the Dons that Col witnessed!

  5. Philip Mendes says

    Adam – that’s true. The Roys were outstanding in 1993, and if they had won those close games against Footscray, Adelaide and Essendon in the first 10 rounds almost certainly would have played finals. Alistair Lynch was incredible that year.

    Rodney – Dwyer was amazing that year, but then didn’t seem to cope with the rigours of pre-season training. I remember being surprised he didn’t get picked early in 87, and then seeing him play a poor game against Collingwood when he finally played. I recall Hinkley being labelled a player with talent, but a reluctant recruit. I remember seeing him show some promise against St Kilda in Round 15 at Moorabbin, but other than that few memories until he became a star at Geelong.

  6. Philip, speaking of 1993, don’t know if you’ve come across this already (or if you were there), but I uploaded this single camera match that I managed to get a hold of on to my YouTube last year. Never telecast on 7 and this was one of their best wins of that season. Commentary by Lane & Booth, etc.

  7. Colin, still hard to believe Fitzroy won that match when you compare the respective sides. Essendon had at least 10 elite players: Baker, Daniher, Harvey, Hawker, Madden, Merrett, Raines, Salmon, Mark Thompson, Van der Haar and Walsh. Admittedly, they were missing Watson and Williams most of that year through injury, and Neagle had left for Sydney. The Roys had only three; Roos, Pert and Osborne. Quinlan missed that game due to injury. Maybe Essendon had too many big men in the wet conditions.

  8. Philip Mendes says

    Thanks Adam. Definitely not there live, but think I heard the last quarter on the radio – this was the game when Alistair Lynch kicked seven playing on Darren Crocker.

  9. Got an equally cracking match between these two from 1991. John Ironmonger’s last game. Bagged four in a close one. To think the Roys knocked off West Coast at the end of the season!

  10. Epic stuff.
    Thanks, Philip

  11. Philip Mendes says

    Adam – another classic Roys victory that I missed. We won four games that season, and the only one I saw live was against Richmond at the MCG which probably cost Kevin Bartlett his job. I think Peter Caven dominated that day.

  12. Thanks very much for posting this, Phil, a great read as always.
    I particularly liked the Fitzroy match footage that you’ve inserted into your summary, though as is my one-eyed wont, I’m only going to look at the victories.
    The 1986 Royboys were a team that played above themselves to the same extent, I believe, that the 1982 side played below themselves (though the Lions did finish 1982 with a wet sail).

  13. Philip Mendes says

    Nice one Pete. I agree with you, and I think the 82 Annual Report says just that. The club were aware at that point they had two potential champions in Pert and Roos, and possibly a third one in Osborne who only played one game in 82 so good reasons for their optimism. May get round to writing about 82 later this year – I’ve got some nice recordings of Winners Revisited shows from that year.

  14. I look forward to your 1982 review, Phil.
    I actually saw Richard Osborne’s debut – his only game for 1982 – when we were thrashed by Essendon at Windy Hill.
    It was also the only game Bernie Quinlan missed for the season, and his return the following week coincided with the start of our six-game winning run.

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