Explore the History of australian football

Bill Dempsey (West Perth)

WANFL: Classy Cardinals Claim Top Prize

West Perth’s first season - 1968 - under the coaching of Graham “Polly” Farmer had ended in disappointment after promising so much for so long. Nevertheless, in hindsight it is possible to that the Cardinals were laying the foundations for a more concerted assault on the premiership in 1969. Under Farmer, West Perth developed a fast, open, play on brand of football similar in style to that produced by Geelong in the VFL, or Sturt in South Australia.  The club's training regime maximised physical fitness, endeavoured to habituate players to the sorts of psychological pressure and physical duress they could anticipate during matches, and inculcated in them the importance of making the best possible decision, from a range of alternatives, whenever they gained possession of the ball.  As Farmer himself remarked, "My basis of football was to develop a natural habit, where people automatically responded in the correct manner. The first commitment is always to get the ball; it’s what you do with the ball after that that will decide how far you take it down the field. If there were five or six variables to make a play, they had to pick the right one....... The basis of my training was always to give it to a footballer who was moving down the field.  We were giving them the ball as they were moving down the field." [2]

Unlike in 1968, West Perth’s timing twelve months later could not have been bettered. Steady rather than spectacular during a minor round which produced 14 wins 5 losses and 2 draws, the Cardinals moved imposingly into top gear come September. West Perth put in a ruthless performance against flag favourites East Perth in front of a record 2nd semi final crowd of 35,740. Cardinals captain-coach “Polly” Farmer showed he harboured no sentimental feelings towards his old club as he comprehensively flattened Royals All Australian rover Keith Doncon, while John Wynne swiftly followed suit by dishing out similar treatment to Hans Verstegen. West Perth raced to a substantial early lead before coasting to victory by 26 points, 12.11 (83) to 7.15 (57). 

For the grand final re-match between the sides, a record crowd of 51,385 crammed into Subiaco Oval, keenly anticipating further fireworks, only to be treated instead to a performance of untouchable virtuosity by the Cardinals, who did virtually as they pleased in racking up a 21.21 (147) to 10.14 (74) win.  West Perth's final goal of the match exemplified both their superiority, and their Farmer-inspired style of play.  Picking up the ball just ahead of left centre wing, Cardinals half forward flanker Stephen Smeath raced off towards goal.  Despite looking as though he had only just learnt how to bounce the ball, he managed to do so successfully three times before cutting sharply in field and snapping truly across his body from twenty metres out directly in front.  It was reminiscent of Ray Gabelich's famous solo run and goal for Collingwood in the 1964 VFL grand final against Melbourne, except that it was executed at roughly three times the speed.

Bill Dempsey, whose parents had travelled down from Darwin to watch the match, fittingly won the Simpson Medal after marking virtually everything that came his way, while centreman Mel Whinnen, 7 goal full forward Laurie Richards, ruckman Norm Knell, wingman Alan Watling, and the captain-coach himself were among many other Cardinals players to shine.

In fairness to the Royals - and, it has to be said, to Perth - they were also capable of producing some eye catching, decisive football. Unfortunately, however, the inspiration died out at precisely the wrong time - just as it had in 1966, 1967 and 1968. After losing the second semi final to West Perth the Royals seemed to be back on course when they comprehensively outplayed Perth by 46 points in the following week’s preliminary final. However, confronted in the grand final by a Cardinals team which played football decades ahead of its time East Perth had no answer. Consolation of a sort came in the form of a Sandover Medal win by sometimes controversial and always fiery captain-coach in waiting, Malcolm Brown.

Unusually, at least in the modern era, the 1969 grand final did not mark the end of the season for East Perth, as the club was involved in an historic trip to Delhi in India where it engaged in two exhibition matches against Subiaco, the first ever official Australian football matches to be played on the sub-continent. A total of approximately 8,000 spectators watched the two games.

Perth failed to qualify for the double chance only on percentage, and it is tempting to suggest that this might have robbed the side of a realistic chance of obtaining of capturing a fourth consecutive flag. It was an unexpected loss to Claremont in the last minor round fixture of the year which effectively scuppered the Demons’ chances. A hard fought 8 point win over Subiaco in the first semi final raised hopes, but a fired up East Perth in the preliminary final proved too formidable.

For the second season in succession Subiaco comfortably qualified for the finals but proved unable to progress. The side was good enough to defeat West Perth, Perth (twice) during the minor round but failed narrowly to come up to scratch in the finals. Austin Robertson junior booted 114 goals to again top the WAFL goalkicking list.

East Fremantle improved two places on their 1968 showing to finish fifth. However, with just 8 wins to their credit they finished a long way (4 wins) adrift of fourth placed Subiaco. Wins against top four sides in the shape of West Perth, Perth and Subiaco were counterbalanced by defeats at the hands of seventh placed Claremont, Swan Districts (sixth - twice) and South Fremantle (eighth).

After their profligate success during the first half of the decade Swan Districts again disappointed, managing just 6 wins from 21 fixtures. The Swans managed to defeat fourth placed Subiaco twice, but other than that proved unable to overcome a finalist.

Claremont’s decline continued as they slumped from sixth in 1968 to seventh this year. Only 5 wins and a draw were achieved with the best victory coming in the final round of the season when reigning premiers Perth were overcome by 40 points.

South Fremantle had a dismal season which produced just 5 wins. Bulldogs fans could have been forgiven for imagining it would be a long time before the team was capable of matching it with the cream of the competition. Such pessimism, however, would turn out to have been unwarranted.

​Geelong's Doug Wade

SANFL: Record Breaking Sturt Come Good When it Matters

Sturt finished the 1969 minor round on 15 wins from 20 matches, 2 fewer than minor premier Glenelg. However, once again, when the finals got underway, the Blues proved capable of elevating their football to another plane. In the second semi final they outclassed the Bays to the tune of 38 points, 18.16 (124) to 11.20 (86), and a fortnight later they were even more convincing against the same opponents, winning by nearly 11 goals and accumulating a grand final record score in the process. Final scores were Sturt 24.15 (159) to Glenelg 13.16 (94), with half forward flanker John Tilbrook (4 goals), ruck rover Paul Bagshaw, full forward Malcolm Greenslade (who bagged a grand final record-equalling 9 goals), wingman Daryl Hicks, and back pocket Brenton Adcock best for the victorious Blues.

The only blot on a record-breaking season came with a 57 point loss against Richmond in the so called “Championship of Australia” clash the following week.

During the first half of the season Glenelg were without doubt the best team in the SANFL. The Bays won their first 11 matches, and only once - against Port Adelaide in round eight, when they edged home by 7 points - were they seriously challenged. Losses in 3 of their next 4 matches, however, showed that they were far from invincible. Nevertheless, Glenelg finished the season with 5 consecutive wins, including annihilations of South Adelaide, Central District and Norwood in their final 3 games. This meant that for the very first time in their history the Bays had clinched the minor premiership.

Unfortunately, as noted above, in the second semi final Glenelg proved incapable of maintaining a finals intensity for the full two hours, and eventually went under by 38 points to a resurgent Sturt which had seemingly come good just at the right time.  In the following week's preliminary final, however, the Bays tapped into a vein of form reminiscent of that which they had displayed during the first half of the year, and swept West Adelaide aside with ease by 53 points.

Pundits previewing the 1969 grand final were therefore confronted by a quandary: which was the “real Glenelg”?  Equally to the point, what impact would Royce Hart, who had been leased by the South Australian Tigers from their Victorian counterparts, have on the game?[3] Perhaps predictably, the forecasters were divided, although on balance there were probably slightly more who sided with the preview writer in the grand final issue of the “SA Football Budget” in regarding the Double Blues' extra finals experience as the most likely decisive factor.[4]  Bill Sutherland, however, writing in 'Footy World', was not entirely alone in predicting an upset:

I expect Glenelg to have reaped enough benefit from last Saturday's victory against West Adelaide to enable them to take their second League premiership.


I think that the Glenelg side is at least five goals better than recent Port Adelaide final sides.  Bearing in mind that Sturt took three and a half quarters to get away from the Magpies last year........I think Glenelg will take this year's pennant.

To the immense disappointment of its hordes of success-starved supporters, Glenelg capitulated to both tension and the opposition, in more or less equal measure, in the 1969 grand final.  Sturt won with almost embarrassing ease by 65 points, racking up a record grand final score in the process.  Possibly the only bright spot to emerge for the Bays was the effort of “Fred” Phillis' in edging past Ken Farmer's thirty-three year old record for the most goals kicked by an individual in a season.  Back in 1936, Farmer had booted 134 goals; Phillis' 5 in this match took his total for the year to 137.  This achievement by Phillis apart, however, Marker, Hart, Terry Crabb, Chris Hunt and Kernahan were almost alone among the Glenelg players in putting in performances commensurate with their ability.  “King Kerley”, who retired as a player after the game, clearly had his work cut out to transform Glenelg from also rans into the genuine article.

A lack of strength in depth prevented West Adelaide from finishing high than third, which nevertheless was an improvement of one place from the previous season. Most pundits expected the Blood ’n Tars to stumble at the first hurdle in the finals against an in-form West Torrens, but after surviving a torrid initial encounter, which ended in a draw, they won the replay comfortably. They could not cope with Glenelg’s dynamism, pace and power in the preliminary final, however.

After winning their last ten home and away games to clinch a major round berth, West Torrens were favoured in many quarters for the flag, but after throwing away a seemingly match-winning position against West Adelaide in the first semi final to allow the Blood 'n Tars to get up to draw the players seemed suddenly drained of self-belief. The old problem of vulnerability under pressure had resurfaced. Reviewing the match in the following Saturday's first semi final replay edition the “Budget” writer observed that:

West proved themselves real narks. Not only did they get up to draw, but they exposed a brittleness in Torrens which has not shown up since early in the season. When West applied the pressure in the third quarter, with weight and fire, Torrens did not like it. If they did, they did not show it on the scoreboard. Torrens kicked 8.3 in the first half, in a couple of bursts rather than from any sustained effort. But once the heat was on in the second half they kicked only 3.7, and acted as if they would have preferred (West captain-coach) Murray Weidemann (sic) to have gone home to Collingwood.[6]

The replay saw West assume complete almost control after half time to win by 21 points. It is arguable that the West Torrens Football Club never properly recovered from this morale-sapping loss. Certainly, the club never again seriously challenged for South Australian football's top prize.

Fifth placed North Adelaide won the same number of minor round games - 13 - as in 1968, but this year it was not good enough to procure finals qualification. A last round loss to Sturt effectively deprived the Roosters of fourth spot which went to a West Torrens side which had been in sparkling form during the second half of the season. As had arguably been the case for most of the 1960s North lacked “devil”, something new coach Mike Patterson, formerly of Richmond in the VFL, would endeavour to instill.

Sixth place for Port Adelaide represented something of a disaster. Not since 1949 had the Magpies failed to contest the finals. The side relied too much on a nucleus of nine or so experienced players and it was also blighted by injuries.

Woodville won a club record 8 matches to finish seventh, which was also a record. The highlight of the season came in round nineteen with a thoroughly warranted 19 point victory over Sturt.

Just as in 1968 Central District won 4 games to finish eighth. The Bulldogs lacked strength in ruck and across half back, and too often failed to maintain pressure and urgency for a full game. Ric Vidovich, who had topped the SANFL goal kicking list in 1968, was sorely missed in 1969.

Norwood lacked experience, particularly in defence, with the result that they conceded more points than any other team. The club recognised that it was in a rebuilding phase and improvement was likely to be gradual rather than swift.

Peter Darley’s third and final season as captain-coach of South Adelaide saw the Panthers slump to their first wooden spoon since 1963. Internal friction at the club certainly did not help matters, and after wins in round two versus Norwood and round four against Centrals South failed to record another victory.

Tight Tussle in Tassie

The top four TANFL clubs were very evenly matched in 1969. North Hobart ultimately claimed the minor premiership after winning 15 of their 19 roster games. Second place went to Clarence. In the second semi final North Hobart thrashed the ‘Roos by 81 points, 24.10 (154) to 10.13 (73). A week earlier New Norfolk had won an absorbing tussle with Sandy Bay by the narrowest conceivable margin. Scores were New Norfolk 13.15 (93); Sandy Bay 13.14 (92). In the preliminary final Clarence bounced back with an emphatic 17.23 (125) to 11.7 (73) defeat of New Norfolk and they went into the grand final re-match with North Hobart with confidence significantly restored.

The grand final was one of the best matches on record in the TANFL. Clarence lifted their game appreciably, and North Hobart had to be at their best to hold them off in a tense and fiercely fought final term. Ultimately, North prevailed by a couple of straight kicks, 19.15 (129) to 17.15 (117), giving coach John Devine his second flag in three seasons with the club.

North Hobart went on to win the state title in convincing fashion. In the preliminary final they overcame Darrel Baldock’s Latrobe by 25 points before annihilating Launceston 26.20 (176) to 6.13 (49). Their 127 point margin of victory was the second biggest in the history of the competition.[7]

Other Highlights

For the third season in a row Manuka downed Eastlake in the CANFL grand final. Scores were Manuka 11.13 (79) defeated Eastlake 9.5 (59). Ainslie and ANU made up the final four. Queanbeyan and Turner, which had spent the previous three seasons as a merged entity, occupied last and second last places respectively.

Western Suburbs, runners up to Newtown in both 1967 and 1969, turned the tables on the Bloodstained Angels in the 1969 NSWANFL grand final with a 7 point triumph, 13.17 (95) to 12.16 (88). North Shore and Balmain finished third and fourth respectively.

Wilston Grange won their first QAFL premiership since 1955 and only their second of ever. They accounted for Coorparoo in the grand final by 24 points, 12.10 (82) to 7.16 (58).

In the NTFL grand final Darwin defeated St Marys, just as they had done a year earlier. Final scores were Darwin 16.13 (109) defeated St Marys 9.13 (67). Nightcliff and Waratahs finished third and fourth respectively which left Wanderers in fifth and last place for the sixth consecutive time.


[1] Tigerland by Brian Hansen, page 140. 

[2] Polly Farmer: a Biography by Steve Hawke, page 270. 

[3] Richmond centre half forward Hart, who was a National Serviceman, had been stationed in Adelaide during the 1969 season, and had been training with Glenelg under Kerley during the week.  However, at weekends he would be flown across to Melbourne by Richmond in order to play in the VFL. A drawn game in the SANFL finals meant that the SA grand final would be played a week later than that in the VFL, and a somewhat controversial leasing arrangement was entered into whereby Hart, who had been a member of Richmond's grand final winning team the week before, could play alongside his season long training companions in a bid to make it two flags in two weeks.

[4] “South Australian Football Budget”, 4/10/69, page 6.

[5] “Footy World”, volume 3, number 27, 30/9/69, page 1.

[6] “SA Football Budget”, 13/9/69, page 2.

[7] The record margin was just 1 point moire, established in 1922 by Cananore who defeated City of Launceston 28.22 (190) to 9.8 (62).

Grand final results - CoA: Richmond 15.27 (117) d. Sturt 9.10 (64); VFL: Richmond 12.13 (85) d. Carlton 8.12 (60); SANFL: Sturt 24.15 (159) d. Glenelg 13.16 (94); WANFL: West Perth 21.21 (147) d. East Perth 10.14 (74); VFA: Division One - Preston 12.11 (83) d. Dandenong10.11 (71); Division Two - Williamstown 15.14 (104) d. Sunshine 12.12 (84); TANFL: North Hobart 19.15 (129) d. Clarence 17.15 (117); NTFA: Launceston23.11 (149) d. East Launceston 16.9 (105); NSWANFL: Western Suburbs 13.17 (95) d. Newtown 12.16 (88); NTFL: Darwin 16.13 (109) d. St Marys 9.13 (67); QAFL: Wilston Grange 12.10 (72) d. Coorparoo 7.16 (58); NWFU: Latrobe 9.10 (64) d. Ulverstone 4.5 (29); CANFL: Manuka 11.13 (79) d. Eastlake9.5 (59); TSP: North Hobart 26.20 (176) d. Launceston 6.13 (49).

Adelaide Carnival results - VFL 23.21 (159) d. Tasmania 10.26 (86); South Australia 15.17 (107) d. Western Australia 14.11 (95); South Australia 21.22 (148) d. Tasmania 12.18 (90); VFL 21.18 (144) d. Western Australia 14.13 (97);  Western Australia 28.24 (192) d. Tasmania 12.7 (79); VFL 15.11 (101) d. South Australia 8.9 (57)

South Australia's carnival cheer squad celebrate another home town goal.

Large Crowds Attend Carnival in Adelaide

The VFA's eleventh hour exclusion from the 1969 Adelaide carnival and a corresponding reduction in the number of matches involved did not deter near record aggregate numbers of spectators from attending, giving a perhaps spurious impression that interstate football was enjoying a boom period.

The opening day of the carnival was outstanding, with a Darrel Baldock-inspired Tasmanian side performing creditably against the Big V, and Western Australia and South Australia producing a typically intense, high quality encounter. Thereafter, unfortunately, matters proceeded pretty much according to expectation, and in retrospect it is possible to infer that the barely challenged dominance of the VFL, particularly in the championship's decisive encounter against the host state, constituted something of a “penultimate nail” in the coffin of the traditional, seven to ten day capital city hosted interstate carnival. (The final nail would come at Perth three years later when the gulf in standard between the VFL and the other states - almost always significant - had become unbridgeable, the Vics having by that stage embellished their subservience to “pressure football” with harmonious team skills of the highest order.)

A Review of the 1969 Football Season

VFL: Tommy's Triumphant Tigers

The failure of teams to maintain standards the season after winning a flag - the so-called 'premiership hangover' - is so frequent an occurrence that it most definitely cannot merely be down to chance.  Moreover, the fact that it is a well known tendency implies that the mere application of will power is not sufficient to counteract it.   In any case, the fact is that, despite coach Tom Hafey's best efforts to ensure that his players remained fit, focused and hungry, in 1968 the Tigers missed the finals, while for much of the 1969 season it appeared probable that they would do the same.  In the end, the battle for the fourth spot in the finals developed into a two way affair involving Hawthorn and Richmond, with the Tigers having improved immeasurably over the course of the second half of the season.  When the two sides met at Hawthorn's home ground of Glenferrie in round eighteen it was a virtual elimination final, with the intensity and vigour of much of the play, not to mention the closeness of the scores, endorsing this.  For much of the game it seemed likely that the Hawks, who appeared to be handling the big occasion nerves better, would prevail; they led at every change by 8, 13 and 2 points, but during the last term Richmond lifted the intensity level still further and ultimately got home by 9 points.  Failure in either of the last two minor round matches of the season could still have caused the Tigers to miss the finals, but the players were in no mood to choke, and wins over Carlton by 29 points in a Princes Park “shoot-out”, and over Footscray by 90 points at the 'G', ultimately consolidated fourth place.

What followed in the first semi final meeting with Geelong was one of the most complete football performances imaginable. In front of a record crowd of 101,233 Richmond blitzed the Cats right from the opening bounce, accumulating a record semi final score of 25.17 (167), and winning by a record margin of 118 points. Had Geelong not had full forward Doug Wade in its line-up the result could have been even more embarrassing as Wade was responsible for 5 of the Cats' 7 goals for the match.

If ever a team chose precisely the right time to peak, it was Richmond in 1969.  After a closely fought first half against Collingwood in the preliminary final, the Tigers duplicated their 1st semi final form in the third term when they added 5 goals to 1 to put the result beyond doubt.  Ruckman Michael Green, who had been nineteenth man in Richmond's 1967 flag-winning side, played the best football of his career during the 1969 finals series, and was popularly listed as best afield in both the first semi final and preliminary final.

The Tigers' grand final opponents were Carlton, but fans hoping for a repeat of the spectacular goal feast of a month earlier were to be disappointed.  Despite near perfect conditions, it proved to be a game in which defences - particularly the Richmond half back line of Strang, Burgin and Owen, and Carlton's key defensive duo of Lofts and Goold - held sway. After playing the better football up to half time to lead 6.5 (41) to 2.7 (19), the Tigers added a quick goal in the third term courtesy of John Northey and were beginning to look ominous. However, from that point until three quarter time, Carlton took control, adding 6 goals to 1 to head into the last quarter 4 points to the good.  It was the nearest Richmond had come to playing poorly all September, but whatever Tom Hafey said during the three quarter time interval had an instantaneous and pronounced effect. The moment play was resumed:

the Tigers went furiously into the attack.  The players were suddenly running, talking, calling to each other.  They lifted across the ground.  Bill Barrot took a remarkable mark and kicked an even more remarkable goal.

Richmond attacked the Carlton players with tremendous ferocity and Carlton wilted.[1]

The Tigers' added 4.7 to the Blues' 2 behinds in the final term to win with a comfort that had looked beyond them at three quarter time.  Ruckman Michael Green was again most people's choice as best for Richmond, with ruck-rover Michael Bowden, rover Kevin Bartlett, and the aforementioned half back trio of Geoff Strang, Graham Burgin and Ian Owen also prominent.

A fortnight later, Richmond claimed the title of Australian champions after comprehensively thumping SANFL premier Sturt by 53 points on the Adelaide Oval. Royce Hart, who a week earlier had played 'on lease' for Glenelg in its loss to Sturt in the SANFL grand final, enjoyed emphatic vengeance as one of Richmond's best players.

Carlton were probably the most consistent side in the VFL in 1969 but succumbed on grand final day to a Richmond combination which peaked at just the right time. The Blues qualified for the finals in second place, behind Collingwood on percentage, with both teams winning 15 of their 20 home and away matches. In the second semi final Carlton comfortably overcame the Magpies in the end after a closely fought first half. Scores were Carlton 16.11 (107) defeated Collingwood 10.11 (71). A fortnight later, however, the Blues succumbed to the biggest disappointment in football.

After finishing seventh in 1968 Collingwood climbed to third in 1969, but the Magpies’ straight sets exit from the finals was soul destroying. In both the second semi final against Carlton and the preliminary final clash with Richmond the ‘Pies kept in touch until half time only to be overwhelmed thereafter.

Geelong could still serve up a vibrant, highly skilful brand of football, and it would be grossly unfair to judge them solely on their performance in the first semi final. In the minor round the Cats achieved wins against eventual premiers Richmond and runners-up Carlton (twice). Full forward Doug Wade booted 127 goals to top the VFL goal kicking list for the third time.

Fifth placed Hawthorn won 13 out of 20 minor round games, the same number as Richmond. However, the Hawks’ percentage was much worse than the Tigers’, who displaced them in the four in round nineteen and stayed there. In the final wash-up the round eighteen clash between the two sides at Glenferrie was crucial, Richmond winning 13.21 (99) to 13.12 (90). Under their 1961 premiership coach John Kennedy the Hawks played an aggressive, all action brand of footy which would soon bear fruit when it mattered most. In 1969 the Hawks won their second successive VFL night premiership thanks to a 10.17 (77) to 9.18 (72) defeat of Melbourne in the final.

Essendon dropped from second place in 1968 to sixth after winning just 10 games and drawing one. At their best the Bombers were a match for the competition’s top sides as they proved with wins over Richmond in round twelve and Geelong, at Kardinia Park, the following week. However, the side was inconsistent, and late season losses to eighth placed North Melbourne and eleventh placed Footscray effectively ended any hopes they might have had of competing in the major round.

St Kilda came seventh, their lowest finishing position since 1959. Darrel Baldock, who had returned home to Tasmania, was sorely missed. Like Essendon, the Saints were inconsistent, capable, for example, of losing at home to Fitzroy one week and winning away against Geelong the next.

Wooden spooners in 1968, North Melbourne rose four places on the premiership ladder in 1969. The ‘Roos were still a long way from being final four prospects, however, and many of their losses were by substantial amounts. Their most memorable victories both came away from home: in round three at the MCG they kicked straighter than Richmond and won by 5 points, 16.15 (111) to 13.28 (106); and in round seven they won by 8 points at Kardinia Park against Geelong.

South Melbourne won 7 matches to finish ninth for the third successive time. The Swans looked out of their depth against the top four but otherwise were capable of holding their own.

Tenth placed Fitzroy also managed 7 wins. It was the Lions’ highest finishing position since 1962. The undoubted highlight of the year for Fitzroy was the feat of veteran defender Kevin Murray in winning the Brownlow Medal. Never the most elegant or poised of footballers Kevin Murray did not let such trifling matters stand in the way of his effectiveness.  With pace, good judgement, and a tremendous leap Murray was equally effective both in the backlines and on the ball.  He was also an inspirational leader who skippered Fitzroy for eight seasons, captain-coached them in 1963 and 1964, and captain-coached East Perth in 1965 and 1966.  Twice an All Australian (once with the VFL, once with Western Australia), Murray was a veritable stalwart of the interstate scene donning the Big V jumper 24 times and representing Western Australia on 6 occasions. He won his Brownlow at the age of thirty-one having previously finished second twice and third once and was no stranger to club awards either winning best and fairests at Fitzroy on an unprecedented nine occasions, plus once with the Royals.  

Footscray, tenth in 1968, dropped one place on the premiership ladder in 1969. The Bulldogs’ best victory was achieved in round nine against Richmond at the Western Oval. A miserly crowd of 8,529 saw Footscray come from behind in the last quarter to win by 11 points, 8.13 (61) to 7.8 (50). Bulldogs captain-coach Ted Whitten played his 300th league game on Monday 7th April at Princes Park. The Bulldogs took on Fitzroy and celebrated Whitten’s milestone with a slashing win, 23.21 (159) to 15.13 (103). Scores were close until three quarter time but the Bulldogs came home with a wet sail kicking 8 last term goals to 2. Whitten now had former Essendon great Dick Reynolds’ all time record of 320 VFL games kin his sights.

Melbourne succumbed to the ultimate indignity of the wooden spoon in 1969, the club’s first for eighteen years. The Demons only managed three wins for the year, against Fitzroy in round eight, Footscray in round ten and, most noteworthy of all, Carlton by 7 points in round eighteen.

VFA: Bullants Go Back to Back

Preston won the VFA division one premiership for the second time in succession. Mind you, grand final opponents Dandenong provided the Bullants with a stern test, and the margin in the end was a mere 12 points. The match was played in wet conditions making clean use of the ball problematical but Preston managed this better than Dandenong. Final scores were Preston 12.11 (83) defeated Dandenong 10.11 (71). Future Hawthorn premiership coach Alan Joyce played at full forward for the victors and kicked 2 vital last quarter goals.

Second division premiers were Williamstown who came from 9 points down at the last change to down Sunshine by 20 points, 15.14 (104) to 12.12 (84).

South Australia's Graham Molloy uses team mate Peter Darley as a step ladder to enable him to outmark Tasmania's Paul Vinar (no. 8) during the Adelaide carnival. Molloy was joint winner of the Tassie Medal with Peter Eakins of Western Australia.

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