1897 VFL season

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1897 VFL Premiership season
Essendon fc 1897.jpg
The Essendon FC won its first premiership
Teams8
PremiersEssendon
(1st premiership)
Minor premiersGeelong
(1st minor premiership)
Matches played62
Highest attendance8,000
Leading Goalkicker MedallistEddy James (Geelong) (22 goals)
Jack Leith (Melbourne) (22 goals)
1898 →

The 1897 Victorian Football League season was the inaugural season of the Victorian Football League and saw eight teams play in the first season. After fourteen rounds was played in the regular seasons, the top four teams played in a three-week final series with Essendon claiming the premiership after they won all three of their games finishing ahead of minor premiers Geelong.

Premiership season[edit]

In 1897, the VFL competition consisted of eight teams of 20 on-the-field players each, with no "reserves" (although any of the 20 players who had left the playing field for any reason could later resume their place on the field at any time during the match).[1]

Each team played each other twice in a home-and-away season of 14 rounds.

Once the 14 round home-and-away season had finished, the 1897 VFL Premiers were determined according to the conditions dictated by the specific format and conventions of the 1897 Finals System, which was used in this season only. A round-robin finals series would not be used again until 1924, and has not been used since then.

Round 1[edit]

Round 1
Saturday, 8 May (3:00 pm) Fitzroy 6.13 (49) def. Carlton 2.4 (16) Brunswick Street Oval Report
Saturday, 8 May (3:00 pm) Collingwood 5.11 (41) def. St Kilda 2.4 (16) Victoria Park Report
Saturday, 8 May (3:00 pm) Geelong 3.6 (24) def. by Essendon 7.5 (47) Corio Oval Report
Saturday, 8 May (3:00 pm) South Melbourne 3.9 (27) def. by Melbourne 6.8 (44) Lake Oval Report

Round 2[edit]

Round 2
Saturday, 15 May (3:00 pm) South Melbourne 6.4 (40) def. Carlton 5.6 (36) Lake Oval Report
Saturday, 15 May (3:00 pm) Essendon 4.6 (30) def. by Collingwood 8.2 (50) EMCG Report
Saturday, 15 May (3:00 pm) St Kilda 3.8 (26) def. by Fitzroy 10.6 (66) Junction Oval Report
Saturday, 15 May (3:00 pm) Melbourne 9.10 (64) def. Geelong 3.1 (19) MCG Report

Round 3[edit]

Round 3
Saturday, 22 May (3:00 pm) Collingwood 6.5 (41) def. Geelong 5.7 (37) Victoria Park Report
Saturday, 22 May (3:00 pm) Fitzroy 5.9 (39) def. by Melbourne 7.8 (50) Brunswick Street Oval Report
Monday, 24 May (3:00 pm) Essendon 12.6 (78) def. Carlton 6.5 (41) EMCG Report
Monday, 24 May (3:00 pm) South Melbourne 8.11 (59) def. St Kilda 0.2 (2) Lake Oval Report

Round 4[edit]

Round 4
Saturday, 29 May (3:00 pm) Geelong 5.14 (44) def. Carlton 3.4 (22) Corio Oval Report
Saturday, 29 May (3:00 pm) South Melbourne 5.11 (41) def. Collingwood 5.3 (33) Lake Oval Report
Saturday, 29 May (3:00 pm) Fitzroy 2.8 (20) def. by Essendon 6.6 (42) Brunswick Street Oval Report
Saturday, 29 May (3:00 pm) Melbourne 11.10 (76) def. St Kilda 7.4 (46) MCG Report

Round 5[edit]

Round 5
Saturday, 5 June (3:00 pm) Melbourne 15.17 (107) def. Carlton 3.8 (26) MCG Report
Saturday, 5 June (3:00 pm) Collingwood 5.7 (37) def. Fitzroy 2.9 (21) Victoria Park Report
Saturday, 5 June (3:00 pm) St Kilda 3.8 (26) def. by Essendon 9.9 (63) Junction Oval Report
Saturday, 5 June (3:00 pm) Geelong 10.12 (72) def. South Melbourne 3.6 (24) Corio Oval Report

Round 6[edit]

Round 6
Saturday, 19 June (3:00 pm) St Kilda 3.6 (24) def. by Carlton 5.5 (35) Junction Oval Report
Saturday, 19 June (3:00 pm) Melbourne 5.3 (33) def. Collingwood 3.8 (26) MCG Report
Saturday, 19 June (3:00 pm) South Melbourne 2.4 (16) def. by Essendon 1.13 (19) Lake Oval Report
Saturday, 19 June (3:00 pm) Geelong 3.13 (31) def. Fitzroy 2.3 (15) Corio Oval Report

Round 7[edit]

Round 7
Tuesday, 22 June (3:00 pm) Carlton 5.5 (35) def. by Collingwood 6.5 (41) Princes Park Report
Tuesday, 22 June (3:00 pm) Essendon 8.15 (63) def. Melbourne 3.9 (27) EMCG Report
Tuesday, 22 June (3:00 pm) Fitzroy 5.13 (43) drew with South Melbourne 5.13 (43) Brunswick Street Oval Report
Tuesday, 22 June (3:00 pm) St Kilda 4.7 (31) def. by Geelong 16.18 (114) Junction Oval Report
  • Geelong's 16.18 (114) was the highest score in 1897
  • Fitzroy's Draw with South Melbourne was the First in AFL/VFL History

Round 8[edit]

Round 8
Saturday, 26 June (3:00 pm) Carlton 1.3 (9) def. by Fitzroy 5.17 (47) Princes Park Report
Saturday, 26 June (3:00 pm) St Kilda 4.5 (29) def. by Collingwood 7.11 (53) Junction Oval Report
Saturday, 26 June (3;00 pm) Essendon 5.2 (32) def. by Geelong 8.9 (57) EMCG Report
Saturday, 26 June (3:00 pm) Melbourne 3.2 (20) def. by South Melbourne 11.7 (73) MCG Report

Round 9[edit]

Round 9
Saturday, 3 July (3:00 pm) Carlton 4.4 (28) def. by South Melbourne 11.8 (74) Princes Park
Saturday, 3 July (3:00 pm) Collingwood 5.7 (37) def. by Essendon 6.10 (46) Victoria Park Report
Saturday, 3 July (3:00 pm) Fitzroy 9.21 (75) def. St Kilda 2.6 (18) Brunswick Street Oval
Saturday, 3 July (3:00 pm) Geelong 1.9 (15) def. Melbourne 0.10 (10) Corio Oval Report

Round 10[edit]

Round 10
Saturday, 10 July (3:00 pm) Carlton 2.1 (13) def. by Essendon 5.12 (42) Princes Park Report
Saturday, 10 July (3:00 pm) Geelong 7.10 (52) def. Collingwood 1.4 (10) Corio Oval Report
Saturday, 10 July (3:00 pm) Melbourne 8.5 (53) def. Fitzroy 3.8 (26) MCG Report
Saturday, 10 July (3:00 pm) St Kilda 0.3 (3) def. by South Melbourne 8.16 (64) Junction Oval Report

Round 11[edit]

Round 11
Saturday, 17 July (3:00 pm) Carlton 2.4 (16) def. by Geelong 9.12 (66) Princes Park Report
Saturday, 17 July (3:00 pm) Collingwood 0.8 (8) def. by South Melbourne 2.15 (27) Victoria Park Report
Saturday, 17 July (3:00 pm) Essendon 9.8 (62) def. Fitzroy 4.6 (30) EMCG Report
Saturday, 17 July (3:00 pm) St Kilda 1.7 (13) def. by Melbourne 10.11 (71) Junction Oval

Round 12[edit]

Round 12
Saturday, 24 July (3:00 pm) Carlton 2.6 (18) def. by Melbourne 5.16 (46) MCG Report
Saturday, 24 July (3:00 pm) Fitzroy 4.4 (28) def. by Collingwood 3.17 (35) Brunswick Street Oval Report
Saturday, 24 July (3:00 pm) Essendon 13.16 (94) def. St Kilda 0.3 (3) EMCG Report
Saturday, 24 July (3:00 pm) South Melbourne 5.2 (32) def. by Geelong 6.8 (44) Lake Oval Report

Round 13[edit]

Round 13
Saturday, 31 July (3:00 pm) Carlton 8.11 (59) def. St Kilda 3.7 (25) Princes Park Report
Saturday, 31 July (3:00 pm) Collingwood 5.13 (43) def. Melbourne 3.10 (28) Victoria Park Report
Saturday, 31 July (3:00 pm) Essendon 8.1 (49) def. South Melbourne 6.9 (45) EMCG Report
Saturday, 31 July (3:00 pm) Fitzroy 2.9 (21) def. by Geelong 5.3 (33) Brunswick Street Oval Report

Round 14[edit]

Round 14
Saturday, 7 August (3:00 pm) Collingwood 7.12 (54) def. Carlton 3.4 (22) Victoria Park Report
Saturday, 7 August (3:00 pm) Melbourne 8.8 (56) def. Essendon 6.3 (39) MCG Report
Saturday, 7 August (3:00 pm) South Melbourne 3.12 (30) def. Fitzroy 4.5 (29) Lake Oval Report
Saturday, 7 August (3:00 pm) Geelong 14.12 (96) def. St Kilda 3.0 (18) Corio Oval Report

Win/Loss table[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 F1 F2 F3 Ladder
Carlton Fit
-33
SM
-4
Ess
-37
Geel
-22
Melb
-81
StK
+11
Coll
-6
Fit
-38
SM
-46
Ess
-29
Geel
-50
Melb
-28
StK
+34
Coll
-32
X
X
X
7
Collingwood StK
+25
Ess
+20
Geel
+4
SM
-8
Fit
+16
Melb
-7
Carl
+6
StK
+24
Ess
-9
Geel
-42
SM
-19
Fit
+7
Melb
+15
Carl
+32
Melb
+4
Ess
-40
Geel
-4
3
Essendon Geel
+23
Coll
-20
Carl
+37
Fit
+22
StK
+37
SM
+3
Melb
+36
Geel
-25
Coll
+9
Carl
+29
Fit
+32
StK
+91
SM
+4
Melb
-17
Geel
+6
Coll
+40
Melb
+6
1
Fitzroy Carl
+33
StK
+40
Melb
-11
Ess
-22
Coll
-16
Geel
-16
SM
0
Carl
+38
StK
+57
Melb
-27
Ess
-32
Coll
-7
Geel
-12
SM
-1
X
X
X
6
Geelong Ess
-23
Melb
-45
Coll
-4
Carl
+22
SM
+48
Fit
+16
StK
+83
Ess
+25
Melb
+5
Coll
+42
Carl
+50
SM
+12
Fit
+12
StK
+78
Ess
-6
Melb
+9
Coll
+4
2
Melbourne SM
+17
Geel
+45
Fit
+11
StK
+30
Carl
+81
Coll
+7
Ess
-36
SM
-53
Geel
-5
Fit
+27
StK
+58
Carl
+28
Coll
-15
Ess
+17
Coll
-4
Geel
-9
Ess
-6
4
South Melbourne Melb
-17
Carl
+4
StK
+57
Coll
+8
Geel
-48
Ess
-3
Fit
0
Melb
+53
Carl
+46
StK
+61
Coll
+19
Geel
-12
Ess
-4
Fit
+1
X
X
X
5
St Kilda Coll
-25
Fit
-40
SM
-57
Melb
-30
Ess
-37
Carl
-11
Geel
-83
Coll
-24
Fit
-57
SM
-61
Melb
-58
Ess
-91
Carl
-34
Geel
-78
X
X
X
8
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 F1 F2 F3 Ladder
Colour Symbol Result
Green + Win
Red - Loss
Blue N/A Draw

Bold – Home game
X – Bye
Opponent for round listed above margin

Ladder[edit]

Pos Team Pld W L D PF PA PP Pts
1 Geelong 14 11 3 0 704 383 183.8 44 Finals series
2 Essendon (P) 14 11 3 0 706 445 158.7 44
3 Melbourne 14 10 4 0 685 473 144.8 40
4 Collingwood 14 9 5 0 509 445 114.4 36
5 South Melbourne 14 8 5 1 595 430 138.4 34
6 Fitzroy 14 4 9 1 509 485 104.9 18
7 Carlton 14 2 12 0 376 737 51.0 8
8 St Kilda 14 0 14 0 280 966 29.0 0
Source: VFL ladder
Rules for classification: 1) points; 2) percentage; 3) number of points for.
(P) Premiers.

Ladder progression[edit]

  • Numbers highlighted in green indicates the team finished the round inside the top 4.
  • Numbers highlighted in blue indicates the team finished in first place on the ladder in that round.
  • Numbers highlighted in red indicates the team finished in last place on the ladder in that round.
  • Subscript numbers indicate ladder position at round's end.
Points by round
Team ╲ Round1234567891011121314
Geelong0608074686124164204242282322362402441
Essendon434485122162202241241281321361401441442
Melbourne4482121161201241242243243283323363363403
Collingwood4283122124163163203242244245245285324364
South Melbourne054584123124125145185225264304304305345
Fitzroy418183858586106146186186186186186186
Carlton0806060707474747474747478787
St Kilda0707080808080808080808080808

Finals series[edit]

Week 1[edit]

Week 1
Saturday, 21 August Geelong 3.11 (29) def. by Essendon 5.5 (35) Corio Oval (crowd: 5,000) Report
Saturday, 21 August Melbourne 7.5 (47) def. by Collingwood 7.9 (51) MCG (crowd: 7,000) Report

Week 2[edit]

Week 2
Saturday, 28 August Essendon 9.16 (70) def. Collingwood 4.6 (30) MCG (crowd: 8,000) Report
Saturday, 28 August Geelong 5.16 (46) def. Melbourne 5.7 (37) Brunswick Street Oval (crowd: 4,000) Report

Week 3[edit]

Week 3
Saturday, 4 September Essendon 1.8 (14) def. Melbourne 0.8 (8) Lake Oval (crowd: 3,800) Report
Saturday, 4 September Geelong 8.4 (52) def. Collingwood 6.12 (48) EMCG (crowd: 3,000) Report

Finals Ladder[edit]

1897 Finals ladder
Pos Team Pld W L D PF PA PP Pts
1 Essendon 3 3 0 0 119 67 177.6 12
2 Geelong 3 2 1 0 127 120 105.8 8
3 Collingwood 3 1 2 0 129 169 76.3 4
4 Melbourne 3 0 3 0 92 111 82.9 0
Source:[citation needed]
Rules for classification: 1) points; 2) percentage; 3) number of points for.

Grand final[edit]

Essendon won the premiership for finishing on top of the round robin finals ladder and no Grand Final was played.

See List of Australian Football League premiers for a complete list.

Awards[edit]

Leading goalkicker medal[edit]

  • Larger numbers indicate number of goals scored in each round. Subscript numbers indicate total cumulative goals scored through that round.
  • Numbers highlighted in blue indicates the player that was the leading goalkicker at the end of that round.
  • Numbers underlined indicates the player did not play in that round.

Other Awards[edit]

Notable events[edit]

  • The game between Essendon and Melbourne in the third round of the round robin tournament holds the record for the lowest combined score in a match in VFL/AFL history: 1.16 (22).
  • George Stuckey, the captain of the Essendon Football Club team that won the VFL's inaugural premiership, also won the 130-yard Stawell Gift in 1897 in 12.2 seconds off a handicap of 12 yards.
  • In the first round of 1897, the VFL revoked the VFA's (then prevailing) push-in-the-back rule. The rule was reinstated before the second round's matches on the following Saturday due to complaints from fans, players and officials.
  • On 12 June, a League representative team played against a Ballarat Football League representative team at the Brunswick Street Oval. Ballarat 13.11 (89) defeated the League 8.6 (54).[2]
  • On 3 July 1897, Fitzroy rover Bill McSpeerin weaved his way and bounced the ball the length of the Brunswick Street Oval to score a goal against St Kilda.[3]
  • Fred Waugh was unable to play in South Melbourne's team for the Round 11 game with St Kilda after attempting suicide. He had been spurned by his lover, and had become disconsolate. His mother found him in his room covered in blood, having cut his throat with a blunt knife. Luckily, he missed severing his windpipe and blood vessels, and a doctor was able to repair the wounds.[4]
  • Carlton's first six matches were all away games due to renovations at Princes Park, with the first game at Princes Park being a 5.6 (36) loss to Collingwood 6.4 (40) on 22 June - Diamond Jubilee Holiday.[5]
  • The first round finals match between Geelong and Essendon at the Corio Oval was the only finals match to be played in Geelong until 2013.[5]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ "THE FOOTBALL SEASON". The Argus. Melbourne. 8 May 1897. p. 11.
  2. ^ Markwell (19 June 1897). "Football Notes". The Australasian. Melbourne. p. 1229.
  3. ^ Markwell, "Football: Hollow Defeat", The Australasian, (Saturday, 10 July 1897), p. 21.
  4. ^ A Footballer's Romance: Rejected by his Sweetheart: He Attempts Suicide, The Argus, (Monday, 12 July 1897), p. 5.
  5. ^ a b Ross, John (1996). 100 Years of Australian Football. Ringwood, Victoria: Penguin Books. p. 39. ISBN 978-0670868148.

References[edit]

  • Maplestone, M., Flying Higher: History of the Essendon Football Club 1872–1996, Essendon Football Club, (Melbourne), 1996. ISBN 0-9591740-2-8
  • Rogers, S. & Brown, A., Every Game Ever Played: VFL/AFL Results 1897–1997 (Sixth Edition), Viking Books, (Ringwood), 1998. ISBN 0-670-90809-6
  • Ross, J. (ed), 100 Years of Australian Football 1897–1996: The Complete Story of the AFL, All the Big Stories, All the Great Pictures, All the Champions, Every AFL Season Reported, Viking, (Ringwood), 1996. ISBN 0-670-86814-0

External links[edit]