1897 VFA season

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1897 premiership season
Teams 6
Premiers Port Melbourne
(1st premiership)
1896
1898

The 1897 Victorian Football Association season was the 21st season of the Australian rules football competition. The premiership was won by the Port Melbourne Football Club, the first premiership in its history.

The 1897 season the VFA's first season as the second-tier senior football competition in Victoria. From 1877 until 1896, the VFA had been the top senior competition in the colony, but at the end of 1896, eight of the association's strongest clubs broke away, establishing the rival Victorian Football League, which immediately assumed the position as the highest level of competition.

Association membership[edit]

During the 1890s, there was an off-field power struggle within the VFA between the stronger and weaker clubs, as the stronger clubs sought greater administrative control commensurate with their relative financial contribution to the game. This came to a head during 1896 when it was proposed that gate profits, which were always lower in matches against the weaker clubs, be shared equally amongst the Association clubs; in response to the threat that this could be endorsed on the votes of the weaker clubs, six of the strongest clubs – Collingwood, Essendon, Fitzroy, Geelong, Melbourne and South Melbourne – seceded from the VFA, inviting Carlton and St Kilda to join them, to form a rival senior competition, the Victorian Football League.[1] The League became recognised as the highest level of senior competition in the colony of Victoria, and the Association became the second-tier senior competition, a position it has maintained since.

The establishment of the League left only five of the Association's existing senior competing clubs: Footscray, North Melbourne, Port Melbourne, Richmond and Williamstown. The VFL gave those five clubs the opportunity to compete as a junior competition under and without representation on the VFL's administration, but they rejected the offer and continued as an independent body.[1] One junior club, Brunswick, was elevated to senior status to bring the numbers to six. The Argus reported in March that two other junior clubs would be elevated to bring numbers to eight, with Essendon District, Brighton, Hawksburn, Hawthorn or Geelong all cited as potential candidates,[2] but this did not eventuate and the association size remained at six teams until 1899.[3]

The three Ballarat-based clubs – Ballarat, Ballarat Imperial and South Ballarat – had been members of the Association with representation on the Board of Management, but had not actively competed for the Association premiership. As there was no longer a strong administrative benefit to belonging to the weakened Association, those clubs also ended their affiliations prior to 1897.[4]

A committee set up in 1896 prior to the secession, featuring delegates both from teams which did secede and teams which did not, developed a series of rule changes which were implemented in 1897: however, since the rules were not adopted until after the secession, the two bodies elected to adopt some slightly different rule changes.[5] Key changes were:

  • The modern system of scoring was introduced, with six points awarded for a goal and one point for a behind, replacing the system where games were decided solely on the number of goals scored. (Adopted by both bodies)
  • The "little mark" was abolished, with the minimum length required for a kick to be claimed as a mark increased from two yards to ten yards (Adopted by both bodies)
  • The number of players in a team was reduced from twenty to eighteen, with two follower positions eliminated. (Later adopted by the League in 1899)[6]

Season results[edit]

Round 1[edit]

Round 1
Saturday, 1 May Port Melbourne 8.19 (67) def. North Melbourne 2.6 (18) Port Melbourne Cricket Ground [7]
Saturday, 1 May Williamstown 3.4 (22) def. by Footscray 4.5 (29) Williamstown Cricket Ground [7]
Saturday, 1 May Richmond 5.8 (38) def. Brunswick 2.3 (15) Melbourne Cricket Ground [7]

Round 2[edit]

Round 2
Saturday, 8 May Port Melbourne 10.12 (72) def. Richmond 3.5 (23) Port Melbourne Cricket Ground [8]
Saturday, 8 May Footscray 6.12 (48) def. Brunswick 3.4 (22) Western Reserve [8]
Saturday, 8 May Williamstown 4.6 (30) def. by North Melbourne 4.9 (33) Williamstown Cricket Ground [8]

Round 3[edit]

Round 3
Saturday, 15 May Williamstown 2.3 (15) def. by Port Melbourne 4.8 (32) Williamstown Cricket Ground [9]
Saturday, 15 May Richmond 5.10 (40) def. by Footscray 10.13 (73) Richmond City Reserve [9]
Saturday, 15 May Brunswick 3.3 (21) def. North Melbourne 1.10 (16) Park St Reserve [9]

Round 4[edit]

Round 4
Saturday, 22 May Port Melbourne 17.18 (120) def. Brunswick 2.0 (12) Port Melbourne Cricket Ground [10]
Saturday, 22 May North Melbourne 8.7 (55) def. by Footscray 9.8 (62) East Melbourne Cricket Ground [10]
Saturday, 22 May Richmond 7.10 (52) drew with Williamstown 8.4 (52) Richmond City Reserve [10]

Round 5[edit]

Round 5[11]
Monday, 24 May (morning) Footscray 2.5 (17) def. by Port Melbourne 7.9 (51) Western Reserve [10]
Monday, 24 May (morning) North Melbourne 5.13 (43) def. Richmond 6.6 (42) East Melbourne Cricket Ground [10]
Monday, 24 May (morning) Williamstown 9.16 (70) def. Brunswick 4.2 (26) Williamstown Cricket Ground [10]

Round 6[edit]

Round 6
Saturday, 29 May North Melbourne 6.5 (41) def. Port Melbourne 2.5 (17) East Melbourne Cricket Ground [12]
Saturday, 29 May Footscray 2.10 (22) def. Williamstown 0.4 (4) Western Reserve [12]
Saturday, 29 May Brunswick 8.6 (54) def. Richmond 4.15 (39) Park St Reserve [12]

Round 7[edit]

Round 7
Saturday, 5 June Richmond 8.1 (49) def. by Port Melbourne 8.12 (60) Richmond Cricket Ground [13]
Saturday, 5 June North Melbourne 5.8 (38) def. Williamstown 3.5 (23) East Melbourne Cricket Ground [13]
Saturday, 5 June Brunswick 4.2 (26) def. by Footscray 8.8 (56) Park St Reserve [13]

Round 8[edit]

Round 8
Saturday, 12 June Port Melbourne 4.10 (34) def. Williamstown 4.5 (29) Port Melbourne Cricket Ground [14]
Saturday, 12 June Footscray 8.13 (61) def. Richmond 6.8 (44) Western Reserve [14]
Saturday, 12 June Brunswick 2.9 (21) def. by North Melbourne 8.9 (57) Park St Reserve [14]

Round 9[edit]

Round 9 (Charity Round)
Saturday, 19 June North Melbourne 3.12 (30) def. Footscray 2.4 (16) East Melbourne Cricket Ground [15]
Saturday, 19 June Brunswick 1.1 (7) def. by Port Melbourne 6.9 (45) Park St Reserve [15]
Saturday, 19 June Williamstown 8.15 (63) def. Richmond 3.3 (21) Williamstown Cricket Ground [15]

Round 10[edit]

Round 10
Saturday, 26 June Port Melbourne 3.11 (29) def. North Melbourne 3.6 (24) Port Melbourne Cricket Ground [16]
Saturday, 26 June Brunswick 0.1 (1) def. by Williamstown 6.9 (45) Park St Reserve [16]
Saturday, 26 June Richmond 2.2 (14) def. by North Melbourne 7.8 (50) Richmond Cricket Ground [16]

Round 11[edit]

Round 11
Saturday, 3 July North Melbourne 3.10 (28) def. by Port Melbourne 7.4 (46) East Melbourne Cricket Ground [17]
Saturday, 3 July Williamstown 3.5 (23) def. Footscray 2.9 (21) Williamstown Cricket Ground [17]
Saturday, 3 July Brunswick 6.8 (44) def. Richmond 4.8 (32) Park St Reserve [17]

Round 12[edit]

Round 12
Saturday, 10 July Richmond 3.6 (24) def. by Port Melbourne 5.6 (36) Richmond Cricket Ground [18]
Saturday, 10 July North Melbourne 5.2 (32) def. Williamstown 4.7 (31) East Melbourne Cricket Ground [18]
Saturday, 10 July Brunswick 3.8 (26) def. by Footscray 10.13 (73) Park St Reserve [18]

Round 13[edit]

Round 13
Saturday, 17 July Port Melbourne 9.14 (68) def. Williamstown 2.4 (16) Port Melbourne Cricket Ground [19]
Saturday, 17 July Footscray 7.17 (59) def. Richmond 0.5 (5) Western Reserve [19]
Saturday, 17 July Brunswick 3.7 (25) def. by North Melbourne 5.7 (37) Park St Reserve [19]

Round 14[edit]

Round 14
Saturday, 24 July Brunswick 6.8 (44) def. by Port Melbourne 14.15 (99) Park St Reserve [20]
Saturday, 24 July Footscray 4.4 (28) def. North Melbourne 1.4 (10) Western Reserve [20]
Saturday, 24 July Williamstown 9.15 (69) def. Richmond 5.3 (33) Williamstown Cricket Ground [20]

Round 15[edit]

Round 15
Saturday, 7 August Port Melbourne 1.11 (17) def. Footscray 1.8 (14) Port Melbourne Cricket Ground [21]
Saturday, 7 August North Melbourne 9.14 (68) def. Richmond 5.14 (44) East Melbourne Cricket Ground [21]
Saturday, 7 August Williamstown 9.12 (66) def. Brunswick 2.8 (20) Williamstown Cricket Ground [21]

Round 16[edit]

Round 16
Saturday, 14 August Port Melbourne 2.11 (23) def. by North Melbourne 4.5 (29) Port Melbourne Cricket Ground [22]
Saturday, 14 August Footscray 3.6 (24) def. by Williamstown 3.7 (25) Western Reserve [22]
Saturday, 14 August Richmond 5.21 (51) def. Brunswick 5.4 (34) Richmond Cricket Ground [22]

Round 17[edit]

Round 17
Saturday, 21 August Port Melbourne 13.8 (86) def. Richmond 3.3 (21) Port Melbourne Cricket Ground [23]
Saturday, 21 August Williamstown 9.7 (61) def. North Melbourne 2.5 (17) Williamstown Cricket Ground [23]
Saturday, 21 August Footscray 3.10 (28) def. Brunswick 2.8 (20) Western Reserve [23]

Round 18[edit]

Round 18
Saturday, 28 August Williamstown 3.9 (27) def. by Port Melbourne 4.6 (30) Williamstown Cricket Ground [24]
Saturday, 28 August Richmond 5.10 (40) def. by Footscray 9.12 (66) Richmond Cricket Ground [24]
Saturday, 28 August North Melbourne 10.9 (69) def. Brunswick 3.15 (33) Western Reserve [24]

Round 19[edit]

Round 19
Saturday, 4 September Port Melbourne 9.17 (71) def. Brunswick 2.6 (18) Port Melbourne Cricket Ground [25]
Saturday, 4 September Footscray 4.6 (30) def. by North Melbourne 7.5 (47) Western Reserve [25]
Saturday, 4 September Richmond 3.11 (29) def. by Williamstown 4.9 (33) Richmond Cricket Ground [25]

Round 20[edit]

Round 20
Saturday, 11 September Footscray 7.12 (54) def. Port Melbourne 3.6 (24) Western Reserve [26]
Saturday, 11 September Richmond 6.8 (44) def. by North Melbourne 6.16 (52) Richmond Cricket Ground [26]
Saturday, 11 September Williamstown 13.15 (93) def. Brunswick 6.7 (43) Williamstown Cricket Ground [26]

Ladder[edit]

1897 VFA Ladder
TEAM P W L D PF PA PTS
1 Port Melbourne (P) 20 17 3 0 1080 504 68
2 North Melbourne 20 14 6 0 770 681 56
3 Footscray 20 13 7 0 805 559 52
4 Williamstown 20 10 9 1 795 606 42
5 Brunswick 20 3 17 0 505 1111 12
6 Richmond 20 2 17 1 685 1091 10
Key: P = Played, W = Won, L = Lost, D = Drawn, PF = Points For, PA = Points Against, (P) = Premiers, PTS = Premiership points Source[3]

Notable events[edit]

Representative games[edit]

The Association played one representative match during 1897, against the Ballarat Football Association at the Eastern Oval on 31 July.

Representative Games in 1897
Saturday, 31 July B.F.A. 6.11 (47) def. by V.F.A. 7.8 (50) Eastern Oval [27]

Other notable events[edit]

  • Theodore Fink, MLA replaced Sir Frank Grey Smith as president of the Association. Smith had presided since 1887.[28]
  • Owing to work to upgrade the venue, the North Melbourne Recreation Reserve was not available during the season. North Melbourne played most of its home games for the season at the East Melbourne Cricket Ground, sharing it with the League's Essendon Football Club;[29] it also played one home game at Footscray when East Melbourne was unavailable.[24]
  • In Round 12, only nine of the Footscray team arrived for their match against Brunswick; Footscray was forced to call on trainers, reserves and about half a dozen willing spectators to take the field in order to field a full team. Despite this unusual handicap, Footscray still comfortably won the game.[18]
  • The Association introduced premiership medals to be award to players of the premier club for the first time, replacing the existing practice of awarding a premiership cap to each player.[6]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The Victorian Football Association". North Melbourne Courier and West Melbourne Advertiser (72). North Melbourne, VIC. 19 March 1897. p. 3. 
  2. ^ Observer (12 March 1897). "Next Winter's football". The Argus. Melbourne, VIC. p. 6. 
  3. ^ a b Observer (13 September 1897). "Close of the Football Season". The Argus. Melbourne, VIC. p. 3. 
  4. ^ "Ballarat Football Club". The Ballarat Star. Ballarat, VIC. 10 April 1897. p. 4. 
  5. ^ Observer (12 March 1897). "Next winter's football – rival organisations – the new rules". The Argus. Melbourne, VIC. p. 6. 
  6. ^ a b "Free Kick" (20 March 1897). "Football – Unsportsmanlike action of the League clubs". The Standard. XIII (11). Port Melbourne, VIC. p. 2. 
  7. ^ a b c Markwell (8 May 1897). "Football Notes". The Australasian. Melbourne, VIC. p. 916. 
  8. ^ a b c Markwell (15 May 1897). "Football Notes". The Australasian. Melbourne, VIC. pp. 966–7. 
  9. ^ a b c Markwell (22 May 1897). "Football Notes". The Australasian. Melbourne, VIC. pp. 1019–20. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f Markwell (29 May 1897). "Football Notes". The Australasian. Melbourne, VIC. pp. 1071–2. 
  11. ^ "To-day's matches". The Argus. Melbourne, VIC. 24 May 1897. p. 6. 
  12. ^ a b c Markwell (5 June 1897). "Football Notes". The Australasian. Melbourne, VIC. pp. 1123–4. 
  13. ^ a b c Markwell (12 June 1897). "Football Notes". The Australasian. Melbourne, VIC. p. 1176. 
  14. ^ a b c Markwell (19 June 1897). "Football Notes". The Australasian. Melbourne, VIC. p. 1229. 
  15. ^ a b c Markwell (26 June 1897). "Football Notes". The Australasian. Melbourne, VIC. pp. 1277–8. 
  16. ^ a b c Markwell (3 July 1897). "Football Notes". The Australasian. Melbourne, VIC. p. 22. 
  17. ^ a b c Markwell (10 July 1897). "Football Notes". The Australasian. Melbourne, VIC. p. 77. 
  18. ^ a b c d Markwell (17 July 1897). "Football Notes". The Australasian. Melbourne, VIC. p. 127. 
  19. ^ a b c Markwell (24 July 1897). "Football Notes". The Australasian. Melbourne, VIC. p. 180. 
  20. ^ a b c Markwell (31 July 1897). "Football Notes". The Australasian. Melbourne, VIC. pp. 231–2. 
  21. ^ a b c Markwell (14 August 1897). "Football Notes". The Australasian. Melbourne, VIC. p. 358. 
  22. ^ a b c Markwell (21 August 1897). "Football Notes". The Australasian. Melbourne, VIC. p. 391. 
  23. ^ a b c Markwell (28 August 1897). "Football Notes". The Australasian. Melbourne, VIC. pp. 443–4. 
  24. ^ a b c d Markwell (4 September 1897). "Football Notes". The Australasian. Melbourne, VIC. p. 497. 
  25. ^ a b c Markwell (11 September 1897). "Football Notes". The Australasian. Melbourne, VIC. p. 549. 
  26. ^ a b c Markwell (18 September 1897). "Football Notes". The Australasian. Melbourne, VIC. p. 605. 
  27. ^ Markwell (7 August 1897). "Football Notes". The Australasian. Melbourne, VIC. p. 284. 
  28. ^ Fiddian, Marc (2004), The VFA: a history of the Victorian Football Association, 1877–1995, p. 21 
  29. ^ "Football – the Victorian Football League". The Argus. Melbourne, VIC. 13 April 1897. p. 6.