Melbourne Football Club
|Melbourne Football Club|
|Full name||Melbourne Football Club Limited|
|Former nickname(s)||Redlegs, Fuchsias (prior to 1933)|
|Home-and-away season||1st (after round 11)|
|Coach||AFL: Simon Goodwin|
AFLW: Mick Stinear
VFL: Mark Corrigan
VFLW: Peter Mercoulia
|Captain(s)||AFL: Max Gawn|
AFLW: Daisy Pearce
VFL: Mitchell White
VFLW: Samantha Johnston
|Ground(s)||AFL: Melbourne Cricket Ground (100,024)|
VFL/AFLW: Casey Fields (12,000)
|Training ground(s)||AFL: Casey Fields
AFLW: AAMI Park
The Melbourne Football Club, nicknamed the Demons, is a professional Australian rules football club, playing in the Australian Football League (AFL). It is based in Melbourne, Victoria, and plays its home games at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).
Melbourne is the world's oldest professional club of any football code. Its origins can be traced to an 1858 letter in which Tom Wills, captain of the Victoria cricket team, calls for the formation of a "foot-ball club" with its own "code of laws". An informal Melbourne team played that winter and officially formed in May 1859 when Wills and three other members codified "The Rules of the Melbourne Football Club"—the basis of Australian rules football. The club was a dominant force in the early years of the game, and was also a foundation member of the Victorian Football Association (VFA) in 1877 and the Victorian Football League (VFL) in 1896, now the national AFL. Melbourne has won 12 VFL/AFL premierships, the latest in 1964. Melbourne was a foundation team of the AFL Women's league, entering the competition in the inaugural year 2017.
In the winter and spring of 1858, a loosely organised football team known as 'Melbourne' played in a series of scratch matches in the parklands outside the Melbourne Cricket Ground. This team was captained by Tom Wills, a prominent athlete and captain of the Victoria cricket team, who, on 10 July that year, had a letter of his published by the Melbourne-based Bell's Life in Victoria and Sporting Chronicle, in which he calls for the formation of a "foot-ball club" with a "code of laws" to keep cricketers fit during winter. Other figures associated with this embryonic Melbourne side include cricketers Jerry Bryant, William Hammersley and J. B. Thompson, and teacher Thomas H. Smith.
During meetings held on 17 and 21 May 1859, Wills, Hammersley, Thompson and Smith met near the MCG at the Parade Hotel, owned by Bryant, to draft "The Rules of the Melbourne Football Club". The resulting ten codified rules are the laws from which Australian rules football evolved.
The first mention of an interclub match played under the new code was between Melbourne and South Yarra in July 1859, with Hammersley as Melbourne's inaugural captain.
In 1861, Melbourne participated in the Caledonian Society's Challenge Cup, but lost the trophy to the Melbourne University Football Club. The club pushed for its rules to be the accepted rules, however many of the early suburban matches were played under compromised rules decided between the captains of the competing clubs.
Although some Melbourne players and officials were associated with the cricket club, the football club was not initially allowed to use the MCG, so it used a nearby field at Yarra Park as its home ground instead.
By 1866 several other clubs had also adopted an updated version of Melbourne's rules, drafted at a meeting chaired by Wills' cousin, H. C. A. Harrison. Harrison was a key figure in the early years of the club; he often served as captain and, in later years, as president. Due to his popular reputation and administrative efforts, he was officially named "Father of Australian Football" in 1908, the year of the sport's golden jubilee.
During the 1870s, Melbourne fielded teams in the Seven Twenties and South Yarra Cup competitions.
After a visit to England by one of the club's officials, the colours of red and green were officially adopted by the club. Shortly afterward, the club began wearing a predominantly red strip and became informally known by supporters as the "Redlegs".
The name "Redlegs" was coined after a Melbourne official returned from a trip to England with one set of red and another of blue woollen socks. Melbourne wore the red set while the blue set was, allegedly, given to the Carlton Football Club. This may be the source of Carlton's nickname, 'The Blueboys'.
1877–1896: Founders of the VFA
In 1877, the club became a founding member of the Victorian Football Association (VFA). During the same year the club took part in the first interstate football match involving a South Australian side, Victorian, defeating the home side 1–0. During this time, the club was known as the "Fuchsias". Melbourne never won a VFA premiership, although they were consistently one of the stronger teams in the competition, finishing runner-up four times, to Carlton in 1877 (the inaugural year of the VFA), to Geelong in 1878 and twice to Essendon in 1893 and 1894.
In 1889, the MFC was reincorporated into the MCC, and for many years the two organisations remained unhappily linked. The MFC's close association with the MCC allowed it to claim the MCG as its home ground and gave it access to a wealthy membership base, but Melbourne's reputation as an "establishment" club was not always an advantage. MCC members have the automatic right to attend all events at the ground, including MFC football games. This meant many potential members had a reduced incentive to join the football club, and Melbourne's membership remained one of the lowest in the competition.
1897–1932: Entry to the VFL
In 1897, the MFC was part of the breakaway Victorian Football League, and has been a part of the competition ever since. The team became known as the "Redlegs". This nickname is still used by some members and supporter groups within the club.
In 1900 Melbourne won its first VFL premiership, defeating Fitzroy. Melbourne's greatest player of these early years of the VFL was Ivor Warne-Smith, who in 1926 won the club's first Brownlow Medal, the League's annual award for the fairest and best player. In that year Melbourne won its second flag. Warne-Smith went on to win a second Brownlow in 1928.
1933–1964: Age of greatness
Retired footballer Frank "Checker" Hughes became Melbourne's coach in 1933, and under his leadership, the club entered a golden age. He inspired the changing of the club's nickname from the Fuchsias to the Demons.
You are playing like a lot of flowers. Lift your heads and play like demons!— Hughes during a speech to his players
Melbourne won flags in 1939, 1940 and 1941, becoming the third club after Carlton and Collingwood to win three consecutive flags. In 1946 Don Cordner became the second Demon to win the Brownlow. In 1947 Fred Fanning kicked a record 18 goals in the last game of the season. The following season Melbourne played the first ever drawn Grand Final, against Essendon, and went on to win the premiership the following week.
Norm Smith became Melbourne's coach in 1952, and the following season Ron Barassi played his first game. These two were to take Melbourne to new heights in the coming years. The Demons made the Grand Final in 1954, losing to Footscray, won the flag in 1955, 1956 and 1957, lost to Collingwood in 1958, and then won again in 1959 and 1960 with Smith as coach and Barassi as captain.
1964 Melbourne won its 12th flag, defeating Collingwood, at the end of the season, Barassi left the club to become captain-coach of Carlton. The following season Norm Smith was sacked after a dispute with the club. Although he was soon reinstated, things were never the same again for the Demons. The club appeared in Grand Finals from 1954 to 1960 and every Finals' Series from 1954 to 1964.
After the 1954 Grand Final loss to Footscray, no team was able to score 100 points against the club until Collingwood in round 5 1963. The next team was Geelong with 110 in round 1 1964. The 1965 season started with eight wins but only two wins from the next 10 games saw the end of the era. They would have to wait until 1987 for Melbourne to make the finals again. This was the most successful and dominant period of any team in the VFL/AFL no other team has ever won 10 premierships in just 31 years. 
1965–1986: Decades of disappointment
Poor recruiting zones and management meant that Melbourne, under coaches John Beckwith (1968–70), Ian Ridley (1971–73) and Bob Skilton (1974–77), languished near the bottom of the League ladder between 1965 and 1975, including two wooden spoons in 1969 and 1974. Their best start to a season was in 1971 when they were at the top of the ladder after the first round and maintained that position until it lost to Collingwood in round 6. Melbourne was still in second place at the start of the second half of the season but a dramatic slump had them dropping to fifth position five weeks later. They finished with only two more wins and a draw.
In 1976, Melbourne missed what looked to be an almost certain finals appearance. In the final round, they only needed to beat bottom side Collingwood and Footscray one place ahead were expected to lose to the top side Carlton. They beat Collingwood at Victoria Park but an unexpected drawn game between Footscray and Carlton saw them miss fifth position. Had Footscray lost the game, Melbourne's superior percentage would have led them to a fifth spot finish.
Melbourne would then fall back into the bottom quarter of the ladder the following season, and in 1979 they suffered the worst defeat in VFL/AFL history, losing to Fitzroy by 190 points in round 17. Although they beat Essendon the following week.
In 1980, the MFC finally legally separated from the MCC, becoming a public company, in an effort to attract more members and improve the club's finances. The season produced one less win than 1979 (five) but the club finished higher – ninth. It became evident that drastic action was needed for a club that had missed 16 finals series in a row the return of former star Ron Barassi was seen as the cure. When Barassi left in 1965 it was felt that he would eventually return and his arrival caused much excitement and an expectation of immediate success.
In 1981, under the chairmanship of Sir Billy Snedden, Barassi returned to Melbourne as the senior coach and immediately appointed Robert Flower as captain. In Barassi's first year the team finished last, but this was attributed to working out who the willing players were and the club won some powerful victories in the next three seasons. There was a distinct revival during the middle of the 1984 season. The club had lost 6 of its first 7 games but won its next 6, two by large margins. After a powerful win against reigning premiers Hawthorn in round 13, elevating the club to 4th place on the ladder, Barassi's five-year plan seemed close to fruition. However, a loss the following week to eventual premiers Essendon seemed to demoralize the club and they only won two more games.
Even though during his era Brian Wilson won the Brownlow in 1982, and Peter Moore won it in 1984, Barassi's coaching was not directly able to get the club back into premiership contention, although his coaching may have set a precedent for the success that occurred 2 years after his departure.
1987–2006: Rollercoaster years
In 1987, Melbourne made the finals under John Northey (for the first time since 1964), losing the Preliminary Final to Hawthorn on the last kick of the game after the final siren. It was also the last game played by the team captain Robert Flower. In 1988 the Demons did even better, reaching their first Grand Final in 24 years, only to be defeated, again, by Hawthorn.
From 1987 to 1991, Melbourne had five positive win-loss differentials in successive seasons which the club had not been able to achieve since the 1954–65 era. Thereafter things went downhill for Northey, although Jim Stynes won the Brownlow in 1991. In 1992, the club finished 11th, and Northey was replaced by Neil Balme as coach. Balme coached Melbourne into the finals in 1994, but the last game loss to Brisbane saw them drop out of the top-eight in 1995, and the club lingered at or near the bottom of the ladder for most of the 1996 season.
By 1996, the club was also in dire financial straits. The board, headed by past player Ian Ridley decided on the desperate step of a merger with Hawthorn. In the ensuing weeks, a passionate debate was fought between pro and anti-merger supporters. In the first few days of this debate, lifelong supporters Mark and Anthony Jenkins met with coterie member George Zagon to form the Demon Alternative – an anti-merger group that was to significantly impact on the plans of the incumbent board. The Demon Alternative recruited members from a wide range of areas but the two most recognised were former player and politician Brian Dixon and Rabbi Joseph Gutnick. The group quickly organised itself into a credible option for Melbourne supporters; however given the support of the AFL and other factors, when the merger issue was put to a vote, a majority of Melbourne members supported the board. In a meeting on the opposite side of town, Hawthorn members rejected their board's proposal and eventually the merger was defeated.
In the aftermath of the merger meetings, Ridley focused on a compromise with the Demons Alternative to ensure that Melbourne could continue as a viable business. His board co-opted Gutnick and Mark Jenkins onto the board and a truce of sorts was struck between all parties. In the months following the 1996 merger vote, the businessman and Joseph Gutnick became president. He put $3 million of his own money into the club, and sacked Balme as coach midway through the 1997 season. In 1998, under new coach Neale Daniher, the club spent most of the season in the top eight and beat the eventual premiers Adelaide in the Qualifying Final. Melbourne also eliminated St Kilda, but lost to North Melbourne in the Preliminary Final. In 1999 Melbourne finished in the bottom three.
In 2000 Daniher took Melbourne to the Grand Final, but the Demons were convincingly beaten by Essendon. The members had expected a new era of success, but in 2001 it was the same old story: Melbourne finished 11th. In 2002, although Melbourne again made the finals, Gutnick was voted out by the members.
In 2003, Melbourne plunged into a new crisis, winning only five games for the year and posting a $1 million loss. President Gabriel Szondy resigned and it seemed that Daniher's tenure as coach was under threat. But, continuing the recent trend, in 2004, Melbourne climbed the ladder again, winning 14 games and leading the competition, albeit for one round only, in round 18; from there, the club lost five matches in a row, including the elimination final, to finish seventh. During the 2004 post-season, the Demons tragically lost defender Troy Broadbridge in the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, when he was swept off Phi Phi island in Thailand. He was walking along the beach with his wife Trisha when the tsunami struck. His body was found on 3 January 2005, and brought home. A funeral was held on 20 January 2005 in recognition to the No. 20 guernsey he wore during his playing days. During the 2005 off-season, the whole team travelled to the island in which Broadbridge was killed to build a new school for those struck by the tsunami. The No.20 jumper was then rested for two years.
Melbourne started 2005 strongly, being second after round 12, however losing momentum by round 19 appeared unlikely to play finals, then wins against Western Bulldogs, Geelong at Geelong (where Melbourne had not won since the late 1980s), and Essendon in round 22, placed the club seventh and a finals berth, only to lose the Elimination Final to Geelong by 55 points.
In 2006, after a slow start, Melbourne again finished the season in seventh position. After defeating St Kilda in the second Elimination Final by 18 points the season ended the following week when Fremantle beat the Demons by 28 points. Melbourne's coach Neale Daniher had become the second longest-serving coach of Melbourne, and the longest-surviving in the entire history of the VFL/AFL not to have coached a premiership side.
2007–2017: Years of struggle
Following a twenty-year run of consistency, season 2007 would begin a dark era not seen since the 1970s. Melbourne would record just five wins for the season. After losing their first nine games through a combination of injury and poor form, they finally broke through with wins against Adelaide and Collingwood. But, following a loss to Richmond the next week, Daniher resigned from the club, and Mark Riley was appointed as caretaker coach. The resignation of Daniher caused significant tension at the club. It was an unpopular move with the leadership group, and captain David Neitz expressed his dissatisfaction over the decision. Winning three of their remaining nine games, Melbourne avoided the wooden spoon and finished 14th.
Dean Bailey was appointed as coach for the 2008 season, but success did not follow, as Melbourne lost their first six matches, before breaking through with a record comeback win in round seven against Fremantle. They showed signs of improvement, putting up a good fight[according to whom?] in round nine against top-of-the-ladder team Hawthorn, who was undefeated at the time. Melbourne had to wait until round 14 for the second win. After improved performances against Collingwood, Richmond, and Sydney in the preceding weeks, the Demons defeated Brisbane by a solitary point in the two teams' first encounter at the MCG in nine years.
Off field, the club remained in serious turmoil. In the first sign of troubles in February 2008, CEO Steve Harris resigned. Paul Gardner addressed the media in response to comments from the club's auditors spelling disaster for the club. Gardner reiterated that the club had posted a $97,000 profit at the end of 2007. Harris was replaced by the high-profile former Wimbledon tennis champion Paul McNamee. Despite celebrating the club's birthday with an official mid-season function at Crown Casino, shortly afterward chairman Paul Gardner resigned, handing the presidency to former club champion Jim Stynes who inherited a $4.5 million debt, which media pundits suggested would cripple the club. Hawthorn's president Jeff Kennett caused controversy with remarks about relocating the Demons to the Gold Coast, something which Stynes spoke against. AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou dispelled the notion that the club's future was in doubt, but admitted that Stynes' board faced a huge challenge. Demons legend, games and goal kicking record holder, David Neitz, announced his immediate retirement due to injury on 19 May.
Stynes wasted no time attempting to change the club's direction and eliminate debt, introducing a drive called "Debt Demolition", beginning with a call for members to sign-up. Under Stynes' direction, the new board sacked Paul McNamee after just four months. During McNamee's tenure, he had drawn criticisms for holidaying in Wimbledon to compete in a legends match and after his sacking an attempt to lure Brisbane Lions star Jonathan Brown was also revealed. A 5 August fundraiser raised $1.3 million. The club raised well over $3 million. Despite the reduced debt, in November new club CEO Cameron Schwab declared that it required urgent AFL assistance to continue, requesting additional funding to its special annual distribution. In December, a fallout in negotiations between the Melbourne Cricket Club resulted in the MCC not committing an expected $2 million to the club and Schwab declared that the club's immediate future was in doubt.
This doubt was quickly put to bed when the AFL and MCC finalised negotiations. The AFL committed $1 million to the club in 2009, with the MCC matching the AFL contribution.
By the midpoint of the 2009 season, things had improved both on and off-field for Melbourne. They had secured a record number of members, re-merged with the MCC, knocked-off more debt and were starting to show some fight on-field. Players such as Liam Jurrah had begun to emerge as top young talents and were catching the eye of the footballing public. However, on the eve of the round 14 clash against West Coast, influential president Jim Stynes announced that he had cancer, this evoked a very emotional response from the footballing public and the club lifted from three embarrassing defeats the weeks before to convincingly beat West Coast in front of a passionate MCG crowd. At the end of the season, Melbourne finished 16th on the ladder and for the second year in a row won no more than four games which granted them a Priority Pick in the National draft. Melbourne, therefore, had picks 1 and 2 in the draft to build on their young talent. At the end of the season fan favourites Russell Robertson, Matthew Whelan and Paul Wheatley announced that they would no longer be playing for Melbourne in 2010 and beyond. During September 2009, midfielder Brock McLean asked to be a traded and a deal involving Carlton's pick 11 in the National draft was agreed to.
After losing their first game against Hawthorn by 50 points and a narrow defeat to Collingwood, Melbourne strung together three consecutive wins against Adelaide, Richmond and Brisbane, making it the first time they have won three games in a row since 2006. Their 50-point win over the previously undefeated and top-of-the-table Brisbane Lions, was the upset of the round, along with Port Adelaide's shock win against St Kilda. It was the Demons' victory over Brisbane that started their freefall, winning only three more games for the season. However, losses to North Melbourne, Western Bulldogs and the poorly performing West Coast seemed to end the Dees finals dream. However, the Demons made a comeback when they narrowly defeated Port Adelaide by one point, at a home game in Darwin. Though subsequent losses to Geelong and Carlton lowered the Demons spirits, they fought a hard battle against arch-enemy Collingwood and came out with a draw. Despite showing great resilience against Collingwood, the Demons were handed two further blows with losses to Adelaide and St Kilda. The following round saw a match-up with Essendon that would decide either team's fate. Though both teams fought hard, the Demons came out on top by 19 points, keeping their finals dreams alive and moving above Essendon on the ladder. The Demons then travelled to Perth, where after a poor start, they fought back, but fell away to lose by 11 points to finals aspirant Fremantle. The next week they faced Sydney at the MCG, for the first time since 2006. Melbourne defeated Sydney by 73 points, thereby inflicting the worst loss Sydney has ever had, under premiership-winning coach, Paul Roos. This was followed up with a 10-point win over the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba where the Demons had not won since 2006. The Demons finished the 2010 season in 12th position with eight and a half wins (more than double their win tallies from 2008 and 2009 combined); that could have easily been eleven if not for close results against 2010 Premiers Collingwood during the course of the year (a one-point loss in round 2 and a draw in round 12) and the Western Bulldogs (a four-point loss in round seven).
On 5 August, the club announced that Jim Stynes' goal of wiping out the club's debt that had plagued them for so long had finally been achieved. The event also saw Melbourne unveil its proposed new logo, which incorporates a trident, the Southern Cross, as well as the inaugural rules of Australian rules football.
Melbourne's 2011 season started with a dramatic draw against Sydney, tying 11.18.(84) apiece after Melbourne captain Brad Green had soccered through a goal with four minutes remaining, only to see their short lead disappear by the final siren. Melbourne, heading into the match, had not won its season-opening match since 2005, nor did Sydney. round 2 saw Melbourne lose dramatically to Hawthorn by 45 points after leading by 19 at halftime. Their next two matches leading into the round 5 bye saw them defeat Brisbane by 11 points and the Gold Coast by 90 points.
However, in an eventful twist to their season, the Demons only recorded four wins between the bye in round 5 and the second bye in round 16, that being a record 96-point thrashing of Adelaide at the MCG in round 7 and a convincing 33-point win over top eight side Essendon in round 11, a record 89-point thrashing of Fremantle in Rround 13, and a 27-point victory over Richmond in round 14.
In round 19, the Demons suffered the second-heaviest defeat in AFL/VFL history – a 186-point humiliation at the hands of Geelong. Twenty-four hours later, the Melbourne Football Club called an urgent board meeting after which coach Dean Bailey was sacked with five games remaining in the 2011 season. He left the club with only 22 wins from 83 games – a winning percentage of just over 25%, however, he was credited for rebuilding the club following the retirements of David Neitz, Adem Yze and Russell Robertson early in Bailey's coaching career. Demons assistant coach and former player Todd Viney was appointed the caretaker coach for the remainder of the season, achieving 1 win the five games he coached. On 17 September 2011, Mark Neeld was appointed as senior coach for a three-year term.
On 13 April 2012, it was announced that Webjet would take over the sponsorship of Melbourne Football Club after the controversial comments by former Melbourne sponsor, Ben Pollis, of Energy Watch. On the field, the Demons had a poor start to the season, losing the first nine matches of the season before finally winning in round 10, upsetting then top-placed Essendon by six points.
Despite the off-season acquisitions of several players, such as Shannon Byrnes, Tom Gillies, Chris Dawes, David Rodan and Jack Viney, the Demons underachieved in the first half of the 2013 season, managing just one win in their first 11 games. As the result of this poor start to the season, during the Demons' mid-season bye on 17 June 2013, Mark Neeld was sacked as head coach. His sacking came within weeks of the departures of senior Demons' staff members Cameron Schwab and Don McLardy. Neeld left the Demons with just five wins in 33 games coached, for a winning percentage of just 15%. Demons' senior assistant coach, Neil Craig, was appointed as the caretaker coach for the remainder of the season. Following a disastrous season finish of 17th on the ladder with two wins, on 6 September the club announced that Sydney premiership coach Paul Roos had signed a two-year deal to coach the Demons, with the option of a third year.
On 31 July 2012, the AFL's Integrity Officer, Brett Clothier, announced a full investigation into Melbourne's 2009 season regarding allegations that the Demons had "tanked" (set out to lose) games during the season to secure a priority draft pick that year, available to clubs winning fewer than five games. Although the press had published such allegations previously, the investigation was prompted by specific statements from former player Brock McLean during a TV interview on On The Couch earlier in July 2012. Melbourne club officials, led by board chairman Don McLardy, vigorously denied the tanking allegations. The investigation lasted 203 days and Clothier interviewed over 50 people associated with the club. The AFL released its findings on 19 February 2013. Clothier effectively cleared Melbourne of tanking, stating "there was no directive from the board and executive of the Melbourne Football Club to deliberately lose matches and that the club, coach and players did not deliberately set out to lose matches." However, the investigation did establish a 'secret' meeting, known as "The Vault", had taken place during 2009 at which club football manager Chris Connolly impressed upon then-coach Dean Bailey the desirability of procuring a priority draft pick. The AFL fined Melbourne $500,000 and suspended Connolly for one year from involvement in Melbourne's training and match-day duties and Bailey (subsequently an assistant coach of Adelaide) for 16 weeks from coaching duties, on the basis they had contravened rule 1.6 by "acting in a manner prejudicial to the interests of the AFL." Neither Melbourne, Connolly or Bailey contested these penalties.
Paul Roos's first year in his tenure as the Demons' head coach saw an improvement from their 2013 season, with the Demons doubling their win tally and their points tally, in addition to increasing their percentage and reducing the number of points conceded by the team. However, the Demons finished the season in 17th place for the second consecutive season.
Under Roos, the club continued to steadily improve winning 7 games in 2015 as well as blooding and developing more young talent into the team. Key forward Jesse Hogan would win the Ron Evans Medal as the AFL rising star kicking 44 goals in his first season. 2016 would embark a 10–12 season for the team, ruckman Max Gawn would receive All Australian honours as well polling 16 votes in the Brownlow Medal. Roos departed the club at the end of the season and assistant coach Simon Goodwin took the reins.
2017 saw the addition of a Melbourne AFL Women's team captained by Daisy Pearce, the team narrowly missed out on making the grand final; only their inferior percentage separated them, finishing with a 5–2 win-loss record. The club would surpass 40,000 members for the first time in their history in May.
Melbourne started their 2017 campaign with an emphatic win against fellow top eight contenders, St Kilda before a tight win against Carlton saw the Demons claim victory in the first two rounds of a season for the first time since 2005. By the midway point of the season, Melbourne sat on five wins and six losses with the main highlight being a 41-point victory over Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval. Following their bye, the Demons claimed three victories in a row including a thriller against Collingwood on Queens Birthday, a 57-point win against 2016 premiers the Western Bulldogs and a last-minute miracle against the West Coast Eagles where defender turned forward Tom McDonald kicked a goal over his head in the dying seconds to secure Melbourne's first win in Perth in over a decade.
The Demons also had a tough time with injury. Key forward Jesse Hogan was diagnosed with testicular cancer before successful surgery and recovery saw him return in round 16, 2016 All-Australian ruckman Max Gawn missed half the season with a serious hamstring injury and co-captains Jack Viney and Nathan Jones found themselves on the sidelines during late-season games with a foot and calf injury respectively. To add insult to injury, undisciplined on-field acts found the Demons losing key players to suspension. The long list included: Jordan Lewis 3 games, Jesse Hogan 2 games, Bernie Vince 2 games and Tomas Bugg 6 games.
Melbourne finished the 2017 home-and-away season in ninth place with a win-loss record of 12–10, missing out on eighth spot to West Coast by 0.5% after West Coast beat minor premiers Adelaide in the last round to leapfrog Melbourne on percentage.
Second-year player Clayton Oliver claimed his first Keith 'Bluey' Truscott Trophy over co-captain Jack Viney while small forward Jeff Garlett topped the club goalkicking list with 42 majors for the season. Essendon recruit Michael Hibberd also enjoyed a successful debut season in the red and blue and was named as Melbourne's sole player in the final 22 of the 2017 All-Australian team.
In 2018 Melbourne had a much improved season, but their form was relatively shaky as they started the season 2 wins to 3 losses, with large losses to Hawthorn and reigning premiers Richmond. However the club rallied behind a 36-point win over Essendon and go on to win the next 5 games in a row, and eventually finish in 5th place with a record of 14–8, to qualify for the finals for the first time in 12 years; their narrow losses to Geelong and St Kilda proved to be the difference between an elimination final and a double chance. In spite of this the Demons began well in the finals, defeating Geelong in the first elimination final and eliminating Hawthorn in their semi final matchup to earn a preliminary final spot for the first time since 2000, in which they were eliminated by the eventual premier, the West Coast Eagles by 66 points.
Despite a fantastic 2018 season, Melbourne crashed down to earth in 2019. The Demons lost their first three games of the season and never recovered, finishing a bitterly disappointing 17th on the ladder with five wins and 17 losses. Three narrow victories prevented the Demons from winning their first wooden spoon in ten years – two five-point wins over Hawthorn and Carlton, and a last-gasp one-point win over eventual wooden spooners Gold Coast.
Gawn was appointed as the club's sole captain for the 2020 season, replacing co-captains Viney and Jones. Melbourne improved significantly from their horror 2019 season but, just like in 2017, they would narrowly miss the finals. The Demons finished ninth on the AFL ladder for the second time in four seasons, winning nine games and losing eight.1
The start to the 2021 season has been nothing short of sensational for the Demons. Winning their first 9 games in a row for the first time since 1956. Their victory over North Melbourne in round 7 put them on the top of the ladder for the first time since round 3, 2005.
In one of the first practice matches between Melbourne teammates in 1859, both red and blue were worn and these colours quickly became associated with the Melbourne Football Club, although they were not used as part of the team's uniform.
In 1872, club member Larry Bell brought some red stockings back from England which were teemed with blue knickerbockers and jerseys and red caps. It is at the is time that the team became known as the 'Redlegs'. Bell also brought back with him blue stockings which were reputedly given to the Carlton Football Club.
In 1933 Melbourne was beginning to rebuild its side and abandoned the name 'Fuchsias' for a more ferocious title - the 'Demons'. This was inspired by then coach Frank 'Checker' Hughes reportedly saying to the players in a game to 'lift up your heads and play like demons!'.
The current club mascots are Chuck, Checker and Cheeky, who are named after legendary coach "Checker" Hughes, Daisy named after captain of the women's team Daisy Pearce and Flash named after 2009 Keith 'Bluey' Truscott Medallist, Aaron Davey.
In the early days of Australian football players would wear whatever sporting clothing they had. It became a trend for the Melbourne payers to wear predominantly white clothes which gave rise to the team being called the 'Invincible Whites'. For a brief period in 1861–62, the team adopted a magenta strip, but this was soon abandoned. From 1872, a more standardised uniform was adopted a navy jersey worn with red socks. A canvas lace up guernsey was introduced in 1884 which featured a red strip down the middle and was worn by players up until 1915. In 1906 a navy woollen jersey with a small red yoke around the neck. By 1919 the yoke evolved into a red V and in 1925 the V was made smaller with a red horizontal band added to the waist.
The current club jumper of a red V shaped yoke on a navy background was first adopted in 1935, and apart from very slight variations over the years, and a period in which royal blue was used between 1975 and 1986 due to the introduction of colour television, the jumper has remained the same.
The Melbourne clash strip, new in 2018, consists of a "retro" inspired home strip of royal blue with a red yoke with white shorts as worn between 1975 and 1986. The alternate away strip is the same as the home strip with the difference being the back entirely in red to allow the club to wear a non-white alternate strip.
Throughout its history, Melbourne has had different guernsey designs, as follows:
The official Melbourne Football Club song is called "It's a Grand Old Flag" (sung to the tune of George M Cohan's 1906 "You're a Grand Old Flag"). The song was first adopted in by the club 1912.
It’s a grand old flag, it’s a high flying flag,
It’s the emblem for me and for you,
It’s the emblem of the team we love,
The team of the Red and the Blue.
Every heart beats true, for the Red and the Blue,
And we sing this song to you,
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
Keep your eye on the Red and the Blue
A second verse was reputedly written by club champion Keith 'Bluey' Truscott in 1940 referencing the club's 1939 and 1926 VFL premiership titles. The club resurrected the original second verse for the 2011 season.
Oh, the team played fine in the year Thirty-nine,
We’re the Demons that no one can lick,
And you’ll find us there at the final bell,
With the spirit of Twenty-six.
Every heart beats true, for the Red and the Blue,
And we sing this song to you,
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
Keep your eye on the Red and the Blue.
Home and training grounds
Melbourne's home ground has been the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) since 1889. From that time to 1980 the team was part of the Melbourne Cricket Club's sporting sections. The MCC operates and partially owns the MCG. The two clubs severed ties in 1980 though restored the relationship in 2009. The club trained on the MCG until 1985, at which point they shifted to the Junction Oval in St Kilda. Currently the Demons' offices are based at AAMI Park and the club trains on the adjacent Gosch's Paddock public oval. Given AAMI Park is co-tenanted with two other professional sporting clubs, Melbourne have sought to move to a dedicated club-specific facility nearby. The club also has a presence at Casey Fields in Cranbourne East, the home ground of its AFLW team and VFL affiliate the Casey Demons. It has based its AFL training program at the venue for the duration of the 2020 season, which was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Melbourne has improved their membership and attendances steadily since the failed Hawthorn merger in 1996, building a membership base of over 30,000 since 2009. The membership record of 36,937 was set in 2011 before it was broken in April 2016 to finish with 39,211 for the 2016 season, this record was broken the next year in April 2017. In May 2017, Melbourne signed up 40,000 members for the first time. In May 2019, Melbourne signed up 50,000 members for the first time.
|Australian Football League||Seniors||12||1900, 1926, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1948, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1960, 1964|
|VFL Reserves||Reserves||12||1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1939, 1949, 1956, 1969, 1970, 1984, 1993|
|VFL Under 19s||Under 19s||6||1947, 1953, 1964, 1971, 1981, 1983|
|Victorian Premiership (1870–1876)||Seniors||3||1870, 1872, 1876|
|Other titles and honours|
|VFL McClelland Trophy (1951–1990; all grades)||Seniors||4||1955, 1956, 1958, 1990|
|AFL McClelland Trophy (1991–present; top of AFL ladder)||0||Nil|
|VFL/AFL Preseason competition||Seniors||1||1989|
|VFL Night Series||Seniors||2||1971, 1987|
|Australian Football League||Minor premiership||9||1939, 1940, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1964|
|Grand Finalist||5||1946, 1954, 1958, 1988, 2000|
|Wooden spoons||12||1905, 1906, 1919, 1923, 1951, 1969, 1974, 1978, 1981, 1997, 2008, 2009|
Melbourne Team of the Century
The Melbourne Football Club Team of the Century was announced on 24 June 2000 at Crown Casino. The selectors were Percy Beames (former player and journalist), Lynda Carroll (club historian), Bill Guest (MFC Director), Greg Hobbs (journalist), John Mitchell (former MFC and MCC President), Linda Pearce (journalist), Dudley Phillips (supporter), Stephen Phillips (media consultant) and Mike Sheahan (journalist), with CEO John Anderson as non-voting chairman.
Hall of Fame
The Hall of Fame was introduced in 2001 with Norm Smith inducted directly as a legend. The Hall of Fame consists of five legends and forty-four inductees.
|Melbourne Football Club|
|Hall of Fame|
Melbourne FC announced its "150 Heroes" to celebrate its 150th anniversary at Crown Casino on 7 June 2008. Each player, or their closest relative, was presented with an official 150 heroes medallion. The criteria for inclusion was games played (minimum of 100), best-and-fairest awards, premierships, Brownlow Medals, contribution to the club and state representation. Those who died in the war were judged based on their achievements before their death.
The heroes named were:
Jim Abernethy, Frank Adams, Bill Allen, Stan Alves, Syd Anderson, Tony Anderson, Lance Arnold, Ron Baggott, Garry Baker, Harold Ball, Ron Barassi, Percy Beames, John Beckwith, George Bickford, Ray Biffin, Barry Bourke, Harry Brereton, Cameron Bruce, Keith Carroll, Geoff Case, Albert Chadwick, Noel Clarke, Geoff Collins, Jack Collins, Chris Connolly, Bob Corbett, Denis Cordner, Don Cordner, Ted Cordner, Vin Coutie, Harry Coy, Jim Davidson, Frank Davis, Ross Dillon, Carl Ditterich, Brian Dixon, Len Dockett, Adrian Dullard, Hugh Dunbar, Richie Emselle, Fred Fanning, Jeff Farmer, Matthew Febey, Steven Febey, Dick Fenton-Smith, Rowley Fischer, Robert Flower, Laurie Fowler, Maurie Gibb, Peter Giles, Terry Gleeson, Brad Green, Rod Grinter, George Haines, Gary Hardeman, Henry Harrison, Gerard Healy, Greg Healy, Dick Hingston, Paul Hopgood, Danny Hughes, Anthony Ingerson, Eddie Jackson, Alan Johnson, Bob Johnson, Tassie Johnson, Trevor Johnson, Travis Johnstone, Gordon Jones, Les Jones, Bryan Kenneally, Allan La Fontaine, Clyde Laidlaw, Frank Langley, Jack Leith, Andrew Leoncelli, Charlie Lilley, Wally Lock, Harry Long, John Lord, Andy Lovell, Brett Lovett, Glenn Lovett, Garry Lyon, Hassa Mann, George Margitich, Peter Marquis, Bernie Massey, Anthony McDonald, James McDonald, Fred McGinis, Shane McGrath, Bob McKenzie, Col McLean, Ian McLean, Noel McMahen, Ken Melville, Laurie Mithen, Peter Moore, Jack Mueller, David Neitz, Stephen Newport, Jack O'Keefe, Andrew Obst, Gordon Ogden, Greg Parke, Joe Pearce, Jack Purse, Ian Ridley, Guy Rigoni, Frank Roberts, Russell Robertson, Alby Rodda, Brian Roet, Peter Rohde, Alan Rowarth, David Schwarz, Norm Smith, Steven Smith, Earl Spalding, Stuart Spencer, Charlie Streeter, Steven Stretch, Jim Stynes, Tony Sullivan, Dick Taylor, Ted Thomas, Ian Thorogood, Stephen Tingay, John Townsend, Keith Truscott, Geoff Tunbridge, Bill Tymms, Barrie Vagg, Francis Vine, Todd Viney, Ivor Warne-Smith, Ray Wartman, Athol Webb, Greg Wells, Jeff White, Sean Wight, Don Williams, Brian Wilson, Stan Wittman, Shane Woewodin, Graeme Yeats, Charlie Young, Adem Yze
- Highest score: 182 points
Round 21, 1986 (MCG) – Melbourne 28.14 (182) vs North Melbourne 14.13 (97)
Round 5, 1991 (MCG) – Melbourne 28.14 (182) vs North Melbourne 17.10 (112)
- Lowest score: 2 points
Round 16, 1899 (Brunswick Street Oval) – Melbourne 0.2 (2) vs Fitzroy 5.10 (40)
- Highest score conceded: 238 points
Round 17, 1979 (Waverley Park) – Melbourne 6.12 (48) vs Fitzroy 36.22 (238)
- Lowest score conceded: 8 points
Round 7, 1903 (MCG) – Melbourne 4.8 (32) vs Carlton 1.2 (8)
- Biggest winning margin: 141 points
Round 9, 1926 (MCG) – Melbourne 21.28 (154) vs Hawthorn 1.7 (13)
- Biggest losing margin: 190 points
Round 17, 1979 (Waverley Park) – Melbourne 6.12 (48) vs Fitzroy 36.22 (238)
- Highest losing score: 151 points
Round 10, 1940 (MCG) – Melbourne 22.19 (151) vs Essendon 24.10 (154)
- Lowest winning score: 28 points
Round 9, 1908 (MCG) 1897 – Melbourne 4.4 (28) vs Fitzroy 3.7 (25)
Round 15, 1909 (MCG) – Melbourne 4.4 (28) vs University 2.15 (27)
- Longest winning streak: 19 games
Round 15, 1955 vs North Melbourne (MCG) to round 13, 1956 vs Carlton (MCG)
- Longest losing streak: 20 games
Round 4, 1981 vs St Kilda (MCG) to round 1, 1982 vs Sydney (SCG)
- Record attendance (home and away game): 99,346
Round 10, 1958 (MCG) vs Collingwood
- Record attendance (finals match): 115,802
Grand Final, 1956 (MCG) vs Collingwood
- Most goals in a match by an individual: 18 goals
Fred Fanning – round 19, 1947 (Junction Oval) vs St Kilda
- Most disposals in a match by an individual, since 1965: 48 disposals
Greg Wells – round 13, 1980 (MCG) vs Fitzroy
|Senior list||Rookie list||Coaching staff|
Updated: 8 June 2021
The honour board is listed from the first VFL/AFL season and includes the following individual awards:
- Keith 'Bluey' Truscott Medal – awarded to the Melbourne Football Club's best and fairest player. Named after Keith Truscott who died in World War II.
- Leading goalkicker award – awarded to the player who kicks the most goals during the season.
- Harold Ball Memorial Trophy – awarded to the best first-year player between 1933 and 2011, and to the best young player from 2012 onward. Named in honour of Harold Ball who died in World War II and won the award in 1939.
^ Premiers, * Grand finalist, † Finals, ‡ Wooden spoon
Bold italics: competition leading goal kicker
Best and Fairest
Brownlow Medal winners
- Ivor Warne-Smith (1926, 1928)
- Don Cordner (1946)
- Brian Wilson (1982)
- Peter Moore (1984)
- Jim Stynes (1991)
- Shane Woewodin (2000)
Leigh Matthews Trophy
- Jim Stynes (1991)
VFL Leading Goalkicker Medal winners (1897–1954)
- Jack Leith (1897)
- Vince Coutie (1904)
- Harry Brereton (1911, 1912)
- Fred Fanning (1943, 1944, 1945, 1947)
Coleman Medal winners (since 1955)
- David Neitz (2002)
AFL Rising Star winners
Mark of the Year winners
- Shaun Smith (1995) (Mark of the Century)
- Michael Newton (2007)
- Liam Jurrah (2010)
- Jeremy Howe (2012)
Goal of the Year winners
- Jeff Farmer (1998)
All-Australian players – AFL (since 1991)
- Jim Stynes (1991, 1993)
- Garry Lyon (1993, 1994, 1995)
- Stephen Tingay (1994)
- David Neitz (1995, 2002)
- Todd Viney (1998)
- Jeff Farmer (2000)
- Adem Yze (2002)
- Jeff White (2004)
- James McDonald (2006)
- James Frawley (2010)
- Mark Jamar (2010)
- Max Gawn (2016, 2018, 2019, 2020)
- Michael Hibberd (2017)
- Clayton Oliver (2018)
- Christian Petracca (2020)
VFL Team of the Year (1982–1990)
- Gerard Healy (1982, 1984)
- Robert Flower (1982, 1983, 1984)
- Steven Icke (1982)
- Brian Wilson (1982)
- Peter Moore (1984)
- Steven Stretch (1987)
- Sean Wight (1987)
- Steven O'Dwyer (1988)
- Brett Lovett (1988, 1989, 1990)
- Alan Johnson (1989)
- Garry Lyon (1989, 1990)
All-Australian players – Interstate Carnivals (1953–1988)
- Ron Barassi (1956, 1958, 1961)
- Brian Dixon (1961)
- Hassa Mann (1966)
- Gary Hardeman (1972)
- Robert Flower (1980, 1983)
- Danny Hughes (1988)
National team representatives (since 1998)
- Jeff Farmer (1998)
- David Neitz (1998, 2002)
- Jim Stynes (1998)
- Todd Viney (1998)
- Shane Woewodin (2000)
- Adem Yze (2000, 2002)
- Cameron Bruce (2002, 2004)
- Clint Bizzell (2003)
- Brad Green (2004, 2010, 2011)
- Aaron Davey (2005, 2006, 2013)
- Brent Moloney (2005)
- Russell Robertson (2005)
- James McDonald (2006)
- James Frawley (2010, 2011)
- Colin Sylvia (2011)
- Jack Trengove (2011)
- Dom Barry (2013)
- Michael Hibberd (2017)
- Neville Jetta (2017)
AFL Women's team
In June 2013, the club fielded a women's representative side known as the Chappettes against Western Bulldogs in the first AFL-sanctioned women's exhibition match, held at the MCG. The two teams competed annually over the next three years for the Hampson-Hardeman Cup. In 2016, when the AFL announced plans for AFL Women's, an eight team national women's league competition, Melbourne was asked to submit an application for a licence alongside other AFL clubs.  The club was one of four Melbourne-based clubs to be granted a licence that year.
|Senior list||Rookie list||Coaching staff|
Updated: 8 June 2021
|Melbourne AFLW honour roll|
|Season||Ladder||W–L–D||Finals||Coach||Captain(s)||Best and fairest||Leading goal kicker|
|2017||3rd||5–2–0||DNQ||Mick Stinear||Daisy Pearce||Daisy Pearce||Alyssa Mifsud (9)|
|2018||3rd||4–3–0||DNQ||Mick Stinear||Daisy Pearce||Daisy Pearce (2)||Tegan Cunningham (9)|
|2019||4th ^||4–3–0||DNQ||Mick Stinear||Elise O'Dea & Shelley Scott||Karen Paxman||Tegan Cunningham (8)|
|2020||4th ^||4–2–0||Semi-final||Mick Stinear||Daisy Pearce||Shelley Scott||Kate Hore (5)|
|2021||4th||7–2–0||Preliminary final||Mick Stinear||Daisy Pearce||Tyla Hanks & Karen Paxman||Kate Hore (12)|
^ Denotes the ladder was split into two conferences. Figure refers to the club's overall finishing position in the home-and-away season.
- Casey Demons (Melbourne is in an affiliation with Casey in the Victorian Football League and VFL Women's)
- List of Melbourne Football Club players
- Melbourne Football Club/Hawthorn Football Club planned merger
- Sport in Victoria
- Sport in Australia
- 1.^ The 2020 AFL season was shortened by five rounds as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- 2.^ Awarded to the best first year player (1933–2011), then to the best young player (2012–present).
- 3.^ In recess owing to war.
- 4.^ Sacked mid-season.
- 5.^ Caretaker coach.
- 6.^ Retired mid-season.
- 7.^ Resigned mid-season.
- "Current details for ABN 27 005 686 902". ABN Lookup. Australian Business Register. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
- Bell's Life in Victoria, 10 July 1858
- The Footballer An annual Record of Football in Victoria, 1875
- 100 Years of Football, The Story of the Melbourne Football Club, 1958
- Smith v Australian Football League  ATMO 20.
- "Melbourne Football Club becomes an MCC Sporting Section again". Melbourne Cricket Club. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
...on April 1, 2009, the Melbourne Football Club once again became a Sporting Section of the Melbourne Cricket Club...
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- Wilson, Caroline (8 June 2014). "Melbourne president's plan to turn the Demons into the Yankees". The Age. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
- "Frank E 'Checker' Hughes". SAHOF.org.au. Sport Australia Hall of Fame Awards. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
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- Paul Gardner addresses the facts Archived 11 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine
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- "Demons hope Heroes dinner will turn tide". MelbourneFC.com.au. Bigpond. 2 June 2008. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
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- AFL reassures Demons over future
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- "Demons given $2m funding package". ABC. 19 December 2008. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
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- Niall, Jake (5 August 2010). "Demons wipe out last of their $5m debt". The Age. Australia. Retrieved 5 August 2010.
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- "Carlton midfielder Brock McLean reveals he left Melbourne Demons because the club was tanking". Fox Sports. News Corp. 30 July 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
- Browne, Ashley (19 February 2013). "From priority picks to claims of 'tanking', how it got to this". AFL.com.au. Bigpond. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
- Carrol, Lynda (1999). The Grand Old Flag. Hardie Grant. p. 12.
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- "Daisy the new female mascot". melbournefc.com.au. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
- "'Flash' mascot to be unveiled". melbournefc.com.au. Retrieved 22 July 2017.
- "Melbourne extends New Balance partnership". melbournefc.com.au. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
- VFL Uniforms by season (since 1897) on FootyJumpers.com
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- "Coronavirus protocols: Melbourne move AFL program to Casey". The Age. 2 March 2020.
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- VFL Football Record, 2 May 1914 p.15
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