The Forgotten Premierships

When we celebrate Gary Ablett’s toe poke, John Coleman’s domination in 1949 or Neil Balme’s tough guy act in 1973, spare a thought for the one day in September or indeed the one night in July best forgotten, for a myriad of reasons, even by the aficionados of the winning team.  If premierships are like your children, these are the ones you love all the same in spite of everything. The one who Ron Blair’s  Christian brother cruelly summed up as: “The nearest you’ll get to a doctor, son, is rotating his tyres!”

So ladies and gentlemen I present the Daniel Baldwins of premierships, the one day in September we just can’t remember.

1960: What can you say about this one-sided walkover? Collingwood kicked 2 goals 2 behinds for the entire day making it our worst performance in a grand final. Ever. This one should be up there with Germany’s demolition of Brazil last year, but it isn’t. The old enemy, mud, conspired to ensure that for the entire last quarter, nothing happened. Melbourne only kicked eight goals for the match, and they won easily.  You can hear the commentators begging the siren to blow, Ted-like, in order to put everyone out of their misery. Why is this sad chapter in football history so important? Because it is as far as I know the only TV footage, certainly the latest, of Melbourne during its golden era. 1964 is merely a newsreel. 1960 Premiership – Melbourne 8.14 def Collingwood 2.2

1978: Fitzroy won a flag. It was the night grand final, but it heralded Fitzroy’s last golden era from 1979 to 1986, before they fell on hard times and became first the Fitzroy Bulldogs, then the Fitzroy Kangaroos and finally the Brisbane Lions. Don’t remember much about it except the cockiness of Warwick Irwin. They certainly were men on a mission. 1978 Escort Championship – Fitzroy defeated North Melbourne 13.18 (96) to 2.8 (20)

1944: Fitzroy wins the flag. The last real premiership as Fitzroy, and the only one as the Gorillas. Memorable for the performance of their star, Baron Ruthven. Forgotten because there was a war on, footage is rare to nonexistent. 1944 premiership – Fitzroy defeated Richmond 9.12 (66) to 7.9 (51)

1976: I am not making this up. This is the premiership expunged from the records. In 1976 the National Football League set up an invitational night premiership with the top 5 clubs from the VFL, SANFL and WAFL. Teams  5 and 6, Collingwood and St Kilda, refused the invitation leaving the slot in the tournament to team 7 – Footscray. Unfortunately they ran into some very stroppy South Australian teams. Port, Glenelg and Sturt tore into Carlton, Richmond and Footscray. It was like the Coward of the County, 20 years of crawling to the Vics was bottled up inside them, and there was three of them. When the bar room cleared, there was two Vic clubs standin’, North and Hawthorn, and they played off for the National Football Championship – in Adelaide. Two teams who didn’t want to be there played off for a title they didn’t want, in front of a crowd who didn’t want them. 1976 NFL Wills Cup– Hawthorn def North Melbourne

1982: Swans win the flag. Their only national night Premiership. In 1982 the VFL moved the South Melbourne Swans to Sydney and a very ordinary season took place. But in the middle of the season a miracle occurred, and the league’s Steptoe and Son won a night of glory, now largely forgotten. 1982 Escort Championship – Swans def North Melbourne 13.12 (90) to 8.10 (58).

These are the forgotten premierships. Just remember folks, the premiership replay we know and love, full game in living colour, only happened in 1974. The first full game in black and white happened in 1961. Before this we had last quarters, blurry newsreel documentaries and amateur footage. Night premierships enabled St Kilda (2004), Collingwood (1979), Fitzroy (1978) and Swans (1982) to celebrate, even though the season proper turned to frustration. And because not everybody took it seriously, David really could stick it to Goliath. So pay homage to our night premiers, where even Footscray, NAB premiers 2010, can savour the sweet smell of victory, and those flags largely forgotten, like 1960, 1994, and all the one sided walkovers.


  1. In 1960 Ted would have been yelling “Hit the showers!” at 3/4 time.

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Half a dozen (sometimes more) of us piled into Jim Loveday’s dark green Morris 1100 (It Floats On Fluid) and headed south to The Parade to watch most weeks of the 1976 Wills Cup.

    Night footy, interstate teams, on a Year 11 school night, the Pooraka Caltex Roadhouse on the way home, teenage heaven.

  3. I’m surprised when someone can remember even one night premier’s name, let alone this many!

  4. georgesmith says

    It is interesting that Melbourne was the winner and the loser of two of the worst grand finals of all time, 1960 and 1988

  5. Swish, any relation to the great Bob Loveday?

  6. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    No, but his older brother was a professional punter, Len Loveday

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